ILOILO CITY -- Ballot boxes from this city will no longer be part of the ballots that will be retrieved in line with the manual recount petition of defeated vice presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) on Tuesday ordered that these ballots not be included in the ongoing five-day retrieval of ballot boxes at the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (PSACC) in the village of Balabago, district of Jaro in this city.

The ballot boxes from the 430 clustered precincts of the city are supposedly retrieved Tuesday, lawyer Emilio Marañon, one of the members of the legal team of Vice President Leni Robredo, said in a phone interview Wednesday.

But these ballots delivered by two trucks were intercepted by representatives of PET before it entered PSACC, said Marañon.

“The ballot boxes were sent back to the office of the city’s treasurer,” he said.

“I presume that this is in response to our call to the attention of the Supreme Court (SC) that Iloilo City is not part of the province,” he said.

But Marañon said that they have yet to receive the official document of the order from the SC, thus he is unable to state the reason of the exception of the Iloilo City ballot boxes.

PET is an electoral tribunal that decides election protests of the President and Vice President of the country. It is composed of justices of the SC.

To recall, the camp of Robredo sought clarification from the PET on the coverage of retrieval of ballot boxes in Iloilo province, one of the three pilot provinces identified by Marcos in his protest along with Camarines Sur and Negros Oriental.

The Robredo camp insisted that Iloilo City should not be included here, since it is “separate and independent from the province of Iloilo.”

Iloilo City, being a highly urbanized city, is independent from Iloilo province.

“Even if they bring that to Manila, they will not be opened. It will be like unnecessary expense on the part of Bongbong Marcos, who is actually the one paying the expenses for the retrieval,” he added.

During the 2016 elections, Robredo won in Iloilo province with total votes of 573,829 against Marcos who garnered 94,411 votes.

The Vice President also won in Iloilo City with 137,662 votes against 33,778 votes of Marcos.

Meantime, Marañon said that the ongoing retrieval of ballot boxes from the 2,318 of the clustered precincts from Iloilo province is “much quicker” compared to the retrieval of ballot boxes in Camarines Sur few months ago.

The retrieval of ballot boxes is expected to be completed on May 25. (PNA)