Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has asked the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) to reveal before the public the results of the concluded recount of ballots included in the electoral protest of defeated 2016 senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino against her.
In a five-page Urgent Motion to Release the Results of Revision and Appreciation of Ballots in the 25% Pilot Protested Precincts filed last Feb. 4, De Lima said the public has the right to know about the truth behind Tolentino’s baseless protest which he has recently withdrawn.
“In order to stop the misinformation and to finally stop Tolentino from playing the victim, De Lima invokes the plenary authority of the Honorable Tribunal as the ‘sole judge’ of electoral contests involving members of Congress, and urges the Honorable Tribunal to not simply grant Tolentino’s Motion and dismiss the entire protest but to make public the results of its initial determination of the concluded revision of pilot precincts pursuant to Rule 76 of the SET Rules of Procedure,” she wrote.
Tolentino, in his motion dated Jan. 3, has told SET that he “voluntarily” withdrew his electoral protest against De Lima to allegedly give his “undivided attention” in campaigning for the Senatorial post in the 2019 midterm elections.
It may be recalled that he withdrew his election protest after the SET denied his Motion to Suspend Proceedings and/or Archive the Protest last Nov. 22.
Notably, Tolentino claimed alleged fraud and irregularities as the cause of his loss in the said elections despite only garnering 12,811,098 total votes as compared to De Lima’s total votes of 14,144,070, or a huge margin of 1,332,972 votes in De Lima’s favor.
The lady Senator from Bicol said that after the completion of the revision and appreciation of the contested and claimed ballots from the pilot protested precincts, the SET can prove that Tolentino was simply defeated and not cheated on.
“As will be confirmed by the Honorable Tribunal, [T]olentino neither had a significant vote recovery nor was there a discovery of any fraud or irregularity that could substantiate his preposterous accusation,” she said.
“When these official results are out in the open, Tolentino can finally make peace with the fact that he was not cheated. He was defeated, and there should be no shame in that,” she added.
While De Lima believes that Tolentino has the right to withdraw his baseless protest anytime and save himself from further embarrassment, the former justice secretary said the false narrative peddled by Tolentino’s camp about the 2016 national elections should be corrected.
“Tolentino has publicly lashed out at De Lima claiming over and over that he was cheated and that De Lima was responsible. He claims that there were allegedly some two million votes that were not counted in his name,” she wrote.
“For all those times that he maintains this claim, De Lima is shamed, ridiculed, and dishonored, and the integrity of the electoral process is viciously assaulted,” she added.
In her Dispatch from Crame No. 390, De Lima called Tolentino’s accusation of cheating as nothing but a “plot for a cheap paperback novel” which has remained a “fantastic story that only losers in elections are capable of concocting.”
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