Comelec chief to Marcos: Prove vote count anomaly

MANILA -- Commission on Election (Comelec) officials challenged Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Wednesday to prove his allegation of irregularities in the counting of votes for vice president, where he has been overtaken by his closest rival.

They also rejected Marcos’ request for a stop to the unofficial tally by an accredited citizens’ watchdog, which uses the same election returns that are transmitted to the Comelec.

The son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. had initially led the partial count by the watchdog, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV). But as of Wednesday afternoon, the administration’s candidate, Representative Leni Robredo, was leading by more than 230,000 votes, putting her 0.6 percentage points ahead of Marcos.

The tally is based on results from 95.5 percent of precincts nationwide. Ballots from overseas Filipinos are now considered crucial in the race for vice president.

Rodrigo Duterte, the Davao City mayor, is poised to become the new president, based on PPCRV results that gave him an unassailable lead.

The official count and proclamation of the president and vice president are done by Congress, which will convene May 24.

If Marcos wins, that would put him a step away from the presidency 30 years after his late father was ousted by a public uprising amid allegations of plunder and widespread human rights abuses.

On Tuesday, Marcos campaign adviser Representative Jonathan dela Cruz said they sent an urgent request to the Commission on Elections to halt the PPCRV count because it showed “an alarming and suspicious trend” contrary to independent exit polls and the campaign’s estimates.

“These accusations are not true ... we are committed to being impartial, to be neutral,” elections commission chairman Andres Bautista said.

He said any complaint would be acted upon based on evidence.

Election Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said there was no reason to stop the official count.

Marcos appealed to his supporters, who have been calling through social media for protest rallies, to stay calm. (AP)

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