On the eve of the swearing-in of Rodrigo Duterte as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, has filed an electoral protest with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal at the Philippine Supreme Court challenging the veracity of Leni Robredo’s claim to the vice presidency.
Results in the country’s May elections confirmed, after a series of sample recounts, that Liberal Party candidate, Robredo, had displaced Marcos for the second most senior post in government by the slimmest margin in the history of the race – 14,418,817 votes against 14,155,344.
The VolatilianTM has always believed that Robredo’s victory was suspicious, given the immense clan support which Marcos enjoys across the archipelago and the size and reach of his political machine compared to hers – Liberal Party backing notwithstanding. On 9 March, based on our analysis, we made the Duterte-Marcos ticket, the value bet for the 2016 election. The sport of presidents
We also believe that Duterte’s reluctance to give Robredo a meaningful portfolio is not simply because she represents the rival Liberal camp – Duterte was the PDP-Laban candidate – but because he also has strong misgivings about the vote figures. Should it turn out that the challenge by Marcos, who ran as an Independent, is upheld by the Supreme Court, any Cabinet appointment which Duterte might have made for her would then be invalidated, causing an early political scandal, an embarrassment which the new administration could do without.
Normally disputes involving the Supreme Court tend to be protracted affairs; in this case however, given the importance of the position being contested, there may be pressure, not least from the President’s Office, to seek a swift resolution to allow government to proceed in a timely fashion.
For the most part, Duterte has maintained a diplomatic silence on the election results and won’t be drawn on questions about Robredo and possible government positions to which she might be appointed.
Marcos’s petition includes some 20,000 pages of annexes comprising sworn affidavits and other documents – sufficient evidence, according to House of Representatives member, Jonathan de la Cruz, Marcos’s political adviser, to warrant recounts in at least 30 areas. These involve 22 provinces – that’s over a quarter of the country’s provinces – five cities, and the nullification of election results in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Basilan.
Marcos’s aim is for the Tribunal to void the proclamation of Robredo as VP and validate his appointment to the post.
Soon to be caught up in the thick of this dispute is the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which during the voting process brushed aside complaints from the Marcos camp and others that some serious voting irregularies had come to light. Comelec virtually ignored those calls. Now, the Commission is embroiled in a high-level battle within its own ranks concerning the conduct of its chairman, Andres Bautista, throughout the election period. Comelec’s Night of the Long Knives