Robredo on VP ballot recount: 'Have no fear, we fight for truth'

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Vice President Leni Robredo reassured her supporters they have nothing to be afraid of as the ballot recount for the electoral protest filed against her begins on Monday, April 2.

The Vice President delivered a 6-minute speech after attending a multi-sectoral Mass organized by the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance around two hours before the Supreme Court (SC), acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), kicked off the ballot recount

Robredo likened her message for her supporters gathered at St Scholastica's College Manila's chapel to the day's Gospel message of hope on Jesus Christ's resurrection. (READ: Robredo on Easter: Unite amid threats to democracy

"Kaya siguro to all our supporters and our friends who are here today, 'yung pinapasabi din ng ating mga lawyers: Wala tayong dapat ikatakot. Wala tayong dapat ikatakot kasi katotohanan ang ating ipinaglalaban," said the Vice President. 

(This is perhaps my message to our supporters and our friends who are here today, the same message our lawyers want to convey: We have nothing to fear. Have no fear for we are fighting for the truth.) 

HEARING MASS. Vice President Leni Robredo sits beside her lawyer Romulo Macalintal and Sister Mary John Mananzan from the Order of St Benedict. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

HEARING MASS. Vice President Leni Robredo sits beside her lawyer Romulo Macalintal and Sister Mary John Mananzan from the Order of St Benedict.

Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

She acknowledged her supporters have many reasons to fear. The electoral protest she is facing was filed by former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. (READ: TIMELINE: Marcos-Robredo election case)

Robredo had also resigned in December 2016 as housing czar of President Rodrigo Duterte, who had barred her from attending Cabinet meetings. Duterte, a known ally of the Marcoses, supported the hero's burial for the late strongman.

But the Vice President remains hopeful about the results of the ballot recount. 

SUPPORT SYSTEM. Vice President Leni Robredo greets her supporters after the Mass. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

SUPPORT SYSTEM. Vice President Leni Robredo greets her supporters after the Mass.

Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

"This is a time of fear, fear of what is going to happen next, pero manalig tayo. Gawin lang 'yung dati na nating ginagawa. 'Wag paghinaan ng loob. Maraming limitasyon, pero sa liit ng mundo natin ngayon, kailangan tayo. Kailangan tayo para patuloy na magbigay ng liwanag," said Robredo. 

(This is a time of fear, fear of what's going to happen next, but have faith. Keep on doing what you have been doing. Do not let your resolve be weakened. There are many limitations, but given how small the world is, we are needed. We need to keep on going to continue giving light.) 

"Kasi kung tayo mismo ang umayaw, lalong didilim ang paligid, and so many people are looking up to us, for us to fight for them. Kaya patuloy lang tayo," she added.

(Because if we will give up, the world will be darker, and so many people are looking up to us, for us to fight for them. Let us keep on going.)

Robredo's speech was heard by nuns from the Order of Saint Benedict, her legal team led by lawyers Romulo Macalintal and Bernadette Sardillo, and her supporters who were clad in white.

Her lawyers also participated in the Mass, with Macalintal reading the First Reading and Sardillo joining the offertory. 

The Vice President's legal team was also blessed by Fr Ted Gonzales, who celebrated the Mass, and other priests present.

BLESSED. Vice President Robredo's legal team receives a blessing during the Mass. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

BLESSED. Vice President Robredo's legal team receives a blessing during the Mass.

Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

Robredo beat Marcos by only 263,473 votes in the 2016 polls, leading the latter to allege cheating and to file the electoral protest against her two years ago.  

Marcos is seeking to recount ballots from 36,465 clustered precincts and also nullify votes in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao. His bid to question the integrity of the 2016 elections as a whole was already junked by the PET.  

Robredo, meanwhile, filed a counter-protest, which seeks to recount ballots from 30,000 polling precincts in various provinces where Marcos won.

On Monday, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Malacañang welcomes the ballot recount.

"The Palace welcomes the recount para ma-settle na 'yang long-festering dispute na 'yan (so the long-festering dispute will finally be settled). This is a judicial matter, this is before the PET already, so we leave it to the coequal branch to handle that," said Guevarra.

On Tuesday, several partymates of Robrdo at the Liberal Party, which the Vice President chairs, expressed confidence the ballot recount will prove she truly won the polls.

"Kolektibong hangarin namin na mananaig sa resulta ng recount ang tunay na saloobin ng mga Pilipino, at 'yan ay binoto nila si Leni Robredo para Bise Presidente (It is our collective aim that the true sentiment of Filipinos would prevail in the recount, and that is that they voted Leni Robredo for vice president)," said Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, meanwhile, believes the recount should put to rest doubts on the election results.

"Ang susunod na pambansang eleksyon ay 13 buwan na lamang mula ngayon. Mahalaga na may tiwala at kumpyansa ang mga botanteng Pilipino sa electoral infrastructure at process," he said.

(The next elections will be held 13 months from now. It is important for Filipino voters to still have faith and confidence in the electoral infrastructure and process.) – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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