POSTSCRIPT / May 29, 2022 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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BBM’s 31.6M voters not celebrating yet

Two intriguing questions: Where are the 31.6 million voters who gave Ferdinand Marcos Jr. a landslide victory in the May 9 national elections, and when is Leni Robredo conceding her defeat to Marcos in their fight for the presidency?

Ferdinand Marcos Jr, joins his family in a rally in Manila.. Photo: Ezra Acayan / Getty Images

The just-concluded canvassing of election returns by a bicameral board of the Congress showed that Marcos garnered 31,629,783 votes, double the 15,035,773 of Robredo. He got 58.77 percent of the 53.8 million votes cast for president, compared to her 27.94-percent share.

Many netizens are wondering why Marcos’ majority win did not trigger rejoicing all over. Where are his supposed 31.6 million voters? By this time we would expect throngs of festive followers waving celebratory banners in front of the Marcos campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong. And why the unusual drop in the output of BBM social media partisans?

Robredo has been quiet too, probably on account of her being in the US on family time with her three daughters. Jillian the youngest graduated last May 18 from New York University with a double bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics.

Instead of just saying “we need to accept the decision of the majority” why does not Robredo state clearly if she is conceding defeat to Marcos? Is she waiting for a legal situation to develop in the Supreme Court that would give her more latitude for her next moves?

It’s not too late for Robredo to tell the awful truth to the 15 million Filipinos who voted for her that the last man left standing after the May 9 elections is not a woman but Marcos Jr., who as president-elect is already organizing his cabinet.

How to tell them? She initially tried to prepare them for the likelihood of defeat after the early returns the day after the elections showed Marcos building up an insurmountable majority of now 58 percent of the total votes cast.

After thanking her followers in a statement before flying to New York, Robredo slipped in the message that “we need to accept the decision of the majority”. She was already saying the battle was going downhill, but they were in denial.

Marcos trolls then spread the word on social media that, with her statement, she had conceded. But people speaking on her behalf said that her statement was not a concession, that it was merely a reiteration of the rule of respecting the majority will.

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A concession is a sporting gesture whose value is not lost on the public. Given before (not after!) the official score is certified, it tells how un/civil the loser is. It is devalued if given after the official results are announced.

But why concede when there is still a chance of winning? That is precisely the beauty of congratulating the would-be winner before he is proclaimed as the winner.

Anyone who presumes to run for president must have the network and the resources to monitor the trends and results of the campaign and the voting. The candidate should know how he is faring, where he is losing, winning, or whatever, at any given stage.

Usually, concessions made prematurely or in error can be retracted. In the 2000 presidential elections in the US, for instance, Al Gore (Dem.) conceded to George W. Bush (Rep.) in a phone conversation.

But when it looked like the results in Florida could trigger an automatic recount there and substantially alter the overall picture, Gore called Bush again and retracted his concession. After a Supreme Court ruling gave Bush an edge, however, Gore conceded again in a speech to his supporters.

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Upon Robredo’s return from the US, she may want to issue a clear concession – if conceding has not been rendered moot by events by then – to help dampen the partisan animosities stoked during the campaign.

Will her followers accept a clear admission of defeat? If they do trust her, they would. They should. Unless they can produce a credible counter-count, they have no choice but to accept the official canvass and the formal proclamation of Marcos as the winner.

If any group complains of widespread cheating, as has been alleged, they should initiate legal action and come forward with evidence before Marcos takes his oath on June 30.

After Bongbong is sworn in, it would take divine intervention or an uprising to evict this son bent on reclaiming the seat of power abandoned by his dictator father at the height of the 1986 People Power Revolt, redeeming the family name, and rewriting the history of Marcosian martial rule.

Robredo could find it politically risky to hang on to the slim possibility that the Supreme Court might rule that Marcos’ certificate of candidacy was invalid from the beginning or that his CoC should be canceled for having been secured based on his material misrepresentation.

Robredo’s election lawyer Romy Macalintal speaking at the canvassing withdrew her objections to the admission of election returns found to be authentic and duly executed in accordance with Section 20 of RA 7166.

Although there are still some questions unanswered, he quoted Robredo as saying, the voice of the people has continued to come through with much clarity. “For the sake of our country that we all love, we have to listen to the voice of the people,” she added. (Was that a concession?)

On a personal note, Macalintal said: “In any competition or contest, I am always guided by this prayer composed by sportsman-poet Berton Braley, ‘If I should win, let it be by the Code with my faith and with my honor held high; and if I should lose let me stand by the road and cheer as the winners go by.’”

(Update of the original copy first published in the Philippine STAR of May 29, 2022)

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