PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is tired and frustrated, and at one point he verbally expressed, which he later claimed to be an afterthought, his desire to step down. However, he gave the impression that what keeps him from throwing in the towel is the fact that his constitutional successor is one named Leni Robredo, of whose capability he and millions of Filipinos have serious doubts. In fact, he even openly expressed his preference for Sen. Francis Escudero and former senator Bongbong Marcos over Robredo; or if not, he would rather give up his post and allow a junta to take over. Later, he affirmed his lack of trust in Robredo when he said that he was willing to step down once Marcos wins his electoral protest.
Naturally, this sent Robredo partisans into a feeding frenzy. Critics of the President once again called out his alleged dictatorial tendencies, even his sanity. Legal luminaries, including Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, reminded him that only the Vice President is the constitutional successor when the President resigns from office.
What critics and legalists forgot is that the President is totally aware of this, and this is why he has thrown two options — either he resigns when Bongbong Marcos is declared as the duly elected constitutional successor, or simply launch a palace coup against his own constitutional government and form a junta to which he will turn over power.
What is clear is the undeniable lack of confidence by the President in Robredo, whom most Filipinos believe is not the rightful winner, and whose occupation of the position of vice president is believed to be an outcome of a massive election fraud.
Only the rabidly anti-Duterte, anti-Marcos and blindly partisan toward the Yellow narrative would claim that the conduct of the May 2016 elections was not tainted by any irregularity. In May 2016, perhaps there was still room for reasonable doubt, even if early signs were already manifest, such as the tweaking of the server, the existence of an illegal queue server, the failure to conduct the required vetting on crucial elements of the automated election system, extremely high incidences of undervotes for the vice president and the presence of anomalous data trends.
But recent exposes and revelations made by lawyer Glenn Chong and other election experts have all but cemented the certainty that something fishy happened during the elections. These include unauthorized transmissions before the day of the elections from machines that were supposed to be sealed and turned off; digital images of ballots that are not faithful reproductions of the original missing and out of sequence digital images; digital images without signatures of members of the board of election inspectors (BEI); signatures of BEI from precincts which are kilometers apart that were identical; signatures of voters that are different from the master list of voters; and a discrepancy in the total votes for vice president, similar to the lead by Robredo over Marcos, as tallied by the national server of the Comelec with that of the total sum from the provincial and city canvasses.
Even the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) discovered, took cognizance of, and even ordered the election officials in several towns in Camarines Sur to explain cases of wet or soiled ballots, opened ballot boxes and other footprints of, at the very least, post-election anomalies or, at worst, a massive and well-coordinated election fraud.
It doesn’t help that the Comelec itself has committed acts that jeopardized the credibility of the elections. Without a numbered resolution, and without informing the public, they changed the minimum shading thresholds from 50 percent — which was approved in 2010 — not only once but twice, to 20 percent in 2013 and 25 percent in 2016.
Hence, without informing the election stakeholders, and without undergoing source code verification, Comelec ordered Smartmatic to program the machines to read ballots even if these are shaded only with a dot-like mark, a move which contradicts the very reason its lawyers gave the PET when they alleged that Comelec reduced the threshold precisely to avoid such kind of small marks to be accidentally read.
Comelec also purchased the machines used in the 2016 elections, the same machines whose credibility had already been under question, for use in the 2019 mid-term elections. And most fatally, Comelec kept on placing its faith in Smartmatic despite all of these issues and complaints, and knowing that this company have had serious problems in elections in the US and even in its own native Venezuela.
Critics of the President almost always also hate the Marcos brand. This is precisely why many of them would rather play naïve, or tolerate, or even justify the fraud. They wouldn’t like the real will of the people to prevail by counting them correctly. This is why they rejoice every time lawyers Brillantes and Macalintal speak up to muddle the issue. Macalintal gleefully said that the scenario of the President resigning and ceding his office to Marcos will not happen because his client won. This is coming from a man whose confidence over the victory of his client is negated by his dilatory squid tactics. If indeed Robredo lawyers and apologists believe that there was no fraud, and Marcos is just dreaming, it behooves us to ask why it is that they don’t want the recount to proceed in the quickest way possible. Instead of calling out Marcos, why can’t Robredo, in the face of doubts over her victory, boldly beseech Justice Caguioa to speedily do his job so that she can already confidently claim vindication.
Critics of the President condemn his suggestion to launch a palace coup and install a junta as a precursor to his resignation. Yet, they conveniently forget that all the above acts committed by the Comelec, and by those responsible in reprogramming machines — launching clone or fake VCMs, making last minute changes in election procedures and facilities, and changing scripts and rules without the proper vetting by legally authorized parties, and allowing a foreign server to play a role in the process — amounted to an assault to the very Constitution that they purportedly swear to protect.
It is impossible for any reasonable and thinking person not to even suspect that a fraud was probably committed, and that what we have is a Vice President who benefited from this serious undermining of the Constitution.
Yet, these people continue to ignore that fact that election fraud that successfully seats an unelected person to become Vice President is in itself a coup against the Constitution. What makes it worse is when that person is inept and incompetent.