William Shakespeare, said to be the world’s greatest dramatist.
To be or not to be? That is the question—whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing them, end them?
— English playwright William Shakespeare, Hamlet
AFTER the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) dismissed the claims of former senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. of massive cheating in the last national elections, there may have been reason for incumbent vice president Maria Leonor ‘Leni’ Robredo to celebrate her triumph—but the fact is that the Filipino people is simply not in the mood to celebrate with her.
Five years ago, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) declared Robredo as the winner of the May 2016 vice presidential race and that the Liberal Party (LP) stalwart won over her closest rival by more than 250,000 votes.
But there were some people who doubted the veracity of Robredo’s claim to the vice presidency; moreover with her presidential running mate—veteran politician Mar Roxas–placed a poor second in the presidential derby, losing by almost seven million votes to the winner, former Davao City mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
So the question was how could a largely unknown, one-term lackluster legislator from Bicol win the vice-presidential race?
Some said she could have won through ‘sympathy vote’ because of the death of her much-beloved late husband, interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo, who served under the presidency of the lackluster Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III. Corazon Aquino is said to have won residency in Malacañang because of her husband Ninoy’s death and likewise their son who some claim benefitted from his mother’s demise.
Yet, people suspect that the controversial Smartmatic voting machines used by the Comelec were behind Robredo’s win, and they have good reasons to be suspicious.
During the 2016 elections, Smartmatic officials were billeted at the same hotel within the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City (also reputed as Araneta-Roxasland to those in the know) where the LP national campaign headquarters was located. There were also news reports that several voting machines were seen at the same hotel on Election Day.
As for President Duterte’s poll win, political analysts believe that Duterte had so many votes so it was quite an impossibility for any voting machine system to make him lose the presidential race.
Within the period prescribed by law, Marcos Jr. filed an election protest before the PET.
His protest was originally assigned to PET member and Supreme Court Justice Alfredo Caguioa, a good friend of former President Aquino III and more importantly, the husband of one of the campaign leaders of Robredo.
There were also news reports of a separate controversy involving PET personnel who attended an out-of-town party south of Manila hosted by the Robredo camp.
Eventually, the election protest was reassigned to another anti-Marcos PET member, Justice Marvic Leonen, who is currently facing an impeachment complaint for his adamant refusal to make his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth accessible to the public, despite the constitutional mandate to the contrary.
After five long years, the PET finally came out with its decision dismissing the Marcos Jr. election protest on the ground that the allegations relating to anomalies in specified voting precincts were not substantiated.
The Marcos camp said it will study its available options.
In contrast, Robredo said the truth has finally come out.
Alas! Only the Robredo camp seemed jubilant. But beyond that, the story was no more.
Why not? The past five years provided everybody with more than enough time to realize that Robredo is a hollow politician with an insatiable desire for publicity, as seen in her underhanded attacks against President Duterte.
That was also enough time for many people to learn that Robredo does not know how to handle power, as seen in the way she goofed up her two chances to work in the Cabinet of the President.
Robredo’s claim that the PET decision allowed the truth to finally come out only underscores her inability to comprehend the decision.
The Marcos Jr. election protest was dismissed because, according to the PET, Marcos Jr. was unable to prove his claims relating to election fraud in specified areas in the entire country. At best, therefore, the PET decision upholds the legal presumption that Robredo is the duly-elected Vice President of the Philippines, Smartmatic’s suspected role in her win notwithstanding.
Yes, Robredo’s claim to the vice presidency is based solely on that presumption.
That’s because the controversies relating to her computerized victory in the hands of the Smartmatic voting machines, as discussed above, have never been squarely resolved to the satisfaction of the electorate and of the media, mainly because Robredo and the LP have managed to avoid those issues for the past five years.
Robredo may have reason to celebrate her win in the PET, but the fact that most of the public did celebrate with her is enough to vindicate the son of the late former president from Ilocos, Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Sr. (AI/MTVN)