Defeated, not cheated

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    THE good. The Presidential Electoral Tribunal released the results of the initial recount of the votes in the electoral protest involving Vice President Leni Robredo and defeated candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, son of deceased dictator Ferdinand Marcos. A recount was conducted in three pilot provinces identified by Marcos where massive fraud was allegedly committed to favor Robredo, to Marcos’ disadvantage. Ideally, a protestant’s best chance to prove his case is in the choice of the pilot provinces. It took close to three years to recount thousands of ballots from each of these provinces, and yet the results are nowhere near Marcos’ favor.

    In the end, VP Robredo increased her lead to 278,555; 15,093 more votes than what she had in the beginning. After the recount in the provinces of Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur, Marcos still had nothing. I suppose they chose those three areas as supposed hot spots of fraud in favor of Robredo as those three are considered bailiwicks of the Robredo and her running mate Mar Roxas. Perhaps the Marcos side thought that it was a brilliant idea at that time, and that it would be easy to persuade the PET with mere casting of aspersions and political innuendo.

    The bad. Unfortunately, despite the lack of evidence to support Marcos’ claims, the PET did not dismiss his protest. This caused a lot of head-scratching on the part of legal observers.

    As one told me: “What are they going to do if the next three provinces yield the same results as the first recount? Will they proceed to all the provinces and finish this by 2028?”

    As clearly pointed out by Justice Benjamin Caguioa in his dissenting opinion, “These are all an exercise in futility.” It bears repeating that it was Marcos who chose the three pilot provinces, areas which in his view are the best examples of electoral fraud supposedly committed. Again, he chose these provinces, presumably at the guidance of his battery of lawyers. It should have been a product of their careful study, based on the information gathered during and subsequent to election day.

    Given these reasonable expectations, Marcos and his team’s handpicked provinces failed to provide a substantial recovery of votes to at least shave off some of the lead of VP Robredo. In short, he failed to make a case that he was cheated. As the kids say, waley (nothing.)

    Despite the clear provision in the PET’s own rules for the dismissal of the protest at this juncture, the PET has ordered both parties to comment on the results of the initial recount.

    It’s strange why the PET would want to draw this out any more than necessary, considering the length of time that has passed. One wonders what sort of comment the PET expects from both parties, apart from “I told you so” (Robredo) and “Oh crap” (Marcos.)
    The ugly. Kidding aside, no one benefits from prolonging the uncertainty over one of the highest positions in the country. In a political system that benefits from stability, an unsettled challenge to the vice presidency has real world consequences.

    People opposed to Vice President Robredo will certainly continue to foment distrust to erode her standing in the perception of the public. You only need to check what the Marcos fanatics on social media are saying: fake vice president, etc, etc. Fake news articles being circulated that Marcos has won the protest.

    Smear projects like this will only gain more steam the longer the challenge is unresolved, and not just those targeting the Vice President herself. A magistrate has already complained that unfair allegations against his honesty have surfaced, calling them vicious innuendo. I can only imagine that everyone in the PET is under the same kind of scrutiny.

    Perhaps some quarters are just afraid of the inevitable—Vice President Robredo won that election fair and square. In the words of a viral meme about this issue: Marcos was defeated, certainly not cheated.

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