THE manual recount of ballots in the first three provinces identified by the camp of defeated vice presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. in his poll protest against Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo could start in October.

Marcos' legal counsel, George Garcia, announced this in a press conference on Tuesday, July 11, after the Supreme Court (SC) concluded the preliminary conference on Marcos' electoral protest.

Garcia said the High Court has asked both camps to file their respective comments on the outline of the issues raised by the SC, which acts as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

Included in the outline is the PET's proposed venue where the manual recount and judicial revision of ballots will take place, which was the basketball court inside the Court of Appeals (CA).

Also among the issues to be resolved is the tribunal's request to both camps to limit their witnesses to three persons per precinct.

Marcos' camp wanted the PET to recount first the ballot boxes in Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental.

Garcia said once the ballot boxes in these areas are opened and have proven that Marcos won, they might not push anymore for the reopening of the contested ballots in other provinces and cities.

Garcia said the retrieval of the ballots could start this August, the revision of the votes this October and its conclusion in February next year.

According to Marcos' legal spokesperson Vic Rodriguez, they will request the tribunal to designate at least 100 revision committee for the swift conclusion of the recount of the ballots.

Rodriguez said these committees will be comprised of lawyers and clerks of court, all to be designated by the tribunal.

The camp of Robredo, meanwhile, filed for an extension to file the second tranche of her protest fee required of her by the PET.

Romulo Macalintal, Robredo's legal counsel, said Robredo will pay P7.4 million in completion to her P15 million protest fee "until such time that Marcos has completed the revision of ballots from the pilot provinces."

Marcos thanked the PET for the progress of his poll protest, a year after he filed it in June last year.

"Nagpapasalamat kami sa tribunal na talagang masigasig sa pagpursigi sa pagbilang ng boto at pagdecide sa mga issue. Sana ay tuloy-tuloy na nang sa ganun ay maging maliwanag na at maayos na natin ang nakita nating problema pagkukulang sa ating sistema ng panghalal... mga kailangan baguhin nang sa gayon ay hindi na mangyari ito ulit," Marcos said.

Marcos, an independent candidate, was defeated by Robredo, a Liberal Party candidate, by only a margin of 263,473 votes.

Robredo obtained 14,418,817 votes, while Marcos got 14,155,344. (SunStar Philippines)