Robredo to Marcos: How many times do I have to win for you to accept defeat?

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo counted as victory the Supreme Court (SC) ruling to release the initial vote recount results in the electoral protest filed against her by ex-senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. 

“Tapos na 'yong eleksiyon…. Prinoclaim tayo ng Kongreso, panalo tayo. Nagkaroon ng recount, panalo ulit tayo. So ilang panalo pa ang kailangan para maniwala siya na hindi siya 'yong nanalo?” the Vice President said in a press conference on Tuesday, October 15. 

(The elections are over.... Congress proclaimed us, we won. There was a recount, we won again. So how many times do I have to win for him to accept defeat?)

Robredo faced the media two hours after the SC, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), ordered both her camp and that of the late dicator’s son to submit their comments on the recount results in the 3 pilot provinces Marcos picked: Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur, the Vice President’s home province. (READ: Supreme Court to release initial recount results in VP protest)

The parties were also ordered to comment on Marcos’ motion to nullify the election results in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao.

The Vice President maintains “there is no other acceptable decision but to dismiss” the protest based on Rule 65 of the PET. (READ: CHEAT SHEET: The Marcos vs Robredo electoral protest)

Rule 65 says that if there is no substantial recovery of votes in favor of Marcos in the 3 pilot provinces, "the protest may forthwith be dismissed, without further consideration of the other provinces mentioned in the protest.”

But Marcos has since asked the PET to immediately allow the technical and forensic examination of election data in the 3 Mindanao provinces, which would initiate the process to nullify the votes there.  

Robredo slammed Marcos anew, arguing the defeated vice presidential bet should have chosen Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao as his pilot provinces instead.

Robredo beat Marcos by just 263,473 votes in the 2016 vice presidential elections, prompting the latter to alleged cheating and file an electoral protest against her. 

Robredo garnered a total of 477,985 votes in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Maguindanao against Marcos' 169,160 votes. If these are nullified, Robredo’s slim lead in the national count would be wiped out. Marcos would lead by 45,352 votes. 

“Dapat sana 'yon na 'yong pinili niya no’ng umpisa. Bakit hindi niya 'yon pinili? Ngayon wala siya doong makuha [sa pilot provinces], gusto na naman niyang maghanap sa iba,” said Robredo.

(He should’ve chosen those [Mindanao] provinces in the first place. Why didn’t he pick them? Now that he couldn’t get anything out of the pilot provinces he has chosen, he wants to look at other places instead.)

Asked if they believe the PET is merely buying time, Robredo's election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the resolution means the parties were given a chance to argue whether or not Rule 65 should be applied. 

"The fact that we are being given a chance to comment on the... report...there is that possiblity in the minds of the PET justices na talagang maging sila ay talagang nag-iisip nang mabuti kung mayroong substantial recovery si Mister Marcos (that they themselves are thinking hard whether Marcos made substantial recovery)," said Macalintal.

"And, as I said, we would be able to prove to the PET that, after revising the [ballots from the] 3 pilot provincies, Mister Marcos did not make substantial recovery," he added.

A ‘frustrated’ Marcos

Marcos said he was frustrated with the anti-climactic resolution of the PET on Tuesday.

“Of course [it’s] frustrating, but what are you going to do? You have to trust the wisdom of our justices,” said the former senator in a chance interview in Manila. 

As he thanked his supporters, who had gathered outside the Supreme Court since Monday evening, Marcos said the High Court also gave his election case the chance to be heard further.

“What has happened in the last 3 years, what happened today, is the case goes on and we will go from strength to strength…. Asahan ninyo na ito ngang ipinaglaban ninyo at ipinaglalaban natin ay ipagpapatuloy natin, at binbigiyan tayo ng PET ng pagkakataon na ipagpatuloy ang laban natin,” said Marcos. 

(You can trust that I shall continue fighting our battle because the PET gave us another chance to continue this.)

His spokesperson Vic Rodriguez, however, said they were “saddened” by the PET resolution as it would only let their case against Robredo drag on.

“Ang mindset po namin no’ng finile 'yong election protest ay ipapanalo po natin ang electoral protest na ito. Any day of delay, of course, works to our disadvantage dahil lampas na po tayo sa 3 taon,” said Rodriguez. 

(Our mindset when we filed the election protest is that we would win it. Any day of delay, of course, works to our disadvantage because we have gone past 3 years already.) – Rappler.com 

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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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