For those who are not aware, there is an ongoing Vice Presidential vote recount in response to the electoral protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in 2016. Yes, that is two years after the election was held. Due to the delay, some people most likely lost interest in following the issue closely. It doesn’t help that mainstream media is not allowed to cover the recount of votes for security reasons.
The delay had more to do with current sitting Vice President Leni Robredo’s unwillingness to comply with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal’s (PET’s) requirements in the past. Her dilly-dallying came across like she was in denial that a recount would actually push through. Either that or her delaying tactic was in the hope that Marcos would eventually give up the fight. She was mistaken.
Robredo’s supporters for instance, do not seem interested in the outcome of the recount. In their minds, Robredo is the real winner. They are not rabid supporters for nothing. While they lament news updates saying initial results of the recount show Robredo is losing votes, they object to the idea that the loss is due to legitimate reasons. They still think that Robredo’s request to allow ballots with 25% shading threshold is valid. They also equate the electoral tribunal’s decision to deny her request as siding with Marcos. Never mind that the 50% shading threshold has been the rule since the vote counting machine was introduced in Philippine elections.
Robredo is sticking by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) resolution issued on September 2016 – four months after the election – that they have allowed the 25% shading threshold. The said resolution was signed by then COMELEC commissioners including the former Chairman Andres Bautista who is now out of the country and conveniently cannot be held to account for his decisions while he was at the helm of the agency. Some can be forgiven for saying that Bautista approved the move to change the rules after the elections after Marcos filed his election protest. This is probably in anticipation of the manual recount, which would invalidate ballots with shading below 50%. Some can also be forgiven for thinking that Bautista is in hiding to avoid criminal prosecution for the alleged “hidden wealth” exposed by his estranged wife. The source of his wealth could be the key to uncovering the truth about the alleged electoral fraud in 2016.
Robredo and her supporters are deceiving the public. They publish statements through the media and argue online insisting it is the electoral tribunal that changed the rules on shading threshold when, in fact, it was the COMELEC that broke its own rules and issued the resolution contradicting the information they told the voters before the election – to make sure to shade the ovals on the ballot completely or at least 50% of it. The resolution they issued even claims that the voting machines were configured to allow the 25% shading. Why didn’t they publicise this before the election then? That’s just so wrong.
Considering the rules on shading were very clear from the start, Robredo is inadvertently saying that her supporters cannot follow rules and should be given concessions the way some people with handicaps or mental disabilities are given special treatment. In other words, Robredo is admitting that her supporters are not very smart or to be a bit blunt, that they are stupid.
Like I said before, the 50% shading threshold rule applies to both Robredo and Marcos. They could both lose votes when the rule is applied during the manual recount. It doesn’t make any sense that Robredo is the only one complaining about it. It’s also telling that Robredo has reportedly lost over 20,000 votes so far due to the rule. This could mean a lot of the ballots were pre-shaded hastily the night before the elections.
Members of the Opposition particularly from the Liberal Party, which Robredo is a part of, have this habit of violating the rules and then crying foul when they get in trouble with authorities. It is the definition of stupidity, indeed. We recall that the Liberal Party even broke the COMELEC rule when they did not meet the deadline in declaring their campaign funds immediately after the elections. But their allies in the COMELEC turned a blind eye to the violation and extended the deadline just for them. Robredo could have been disqualified from sitting as Vice President had the COMELEC enforced its rule. But this is the Philippines where the padrino system trumps all systems in place.
In fact, when I see Leni gallivanting overseas, I get the impression she’s not bothered by the ongoing VP vote recount because she just doesn’t care who actually won as long as her “patrons” will take care of things. She and her supporters will say the Vice Presidency was stolen from her if she loses the recount. They are already trying hard to condition the minds of the public and and are accusing Marcos of trying to cheat his way into the post. They say this even when there is no proof. They will feel shocked and sidelined once the real winner is announced.
They accuse Marcos of cheating just because of his father’s supposed history of cheating the snap election in 1986 with his then rival the late Cory Aquino even though the cheating allegations were not proven. They accuse the son of the “dictator” of cheating even when a lot of the evidence during the VP vote recount suggest Robredo was the one who benefitted from electoral fraud. Irregularities like ballots in the four precincts in Bato, Camarines Sur – her turf – were discovered soaking wet upon opening the ballot box containing them.
Unfortunately for her, it looks like Robredo’s luck is running out. She doesn’t have allies in the electoral tribunal to help her. Now that Bautista is out of the COMELEC, there is no one brave enough to “fix” things for her and the Liberal Party. The only thing she and her supporters can do is to organise another “people power” rally to protest the looming “dictatorship” when the real winner is announced.