MANILA, Philippines — It’s minutes away from 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24, and for most, the official count of the presidential and vice-presidential race in the Batasang Pambansa is proceeding atypically.
After more than seven hours of the same – Senate or House officials open the sealed ballot boxes, document aloud what’s inside, compare it to the electronically transmitted version, before the vote count votes on every doorstep certificate (COC) won’t be encoded on Congress’ tally – there’s another hitch. The COC of Sultan Kudarat, a province of Mindanao, was missing.
A visibly exasperated Senate Majority Leader, Miguel Zubiri, chairman of the senate panel of the joint committee responsible for collecting the results, began to berate the Electoral Commission (Comelec) so that all viewers of Batasan and the live broadcast could to see him.
“They have only one job, and one job to do, the PSE (Provincial Election Supervisor) – which is to insert the COCs of the President and Vice President results into a ballot box and hand it over. in the Senate. One job and one job. How can they neglect this work entrusted to them by the Constitution? ” he said. That same night, three other COCs were missing from the polls – from Surigao del Sur and Pampanga.
Zubiri’s visible frustration was the only real emotional moment of the evening as Congress, convened as the National Council of Canvassers (NBOC), tallied the votes for the nation’s two highest offices.
The count, which began around 2 p.m. on May 24, ended around 11 p.m. the same day with more than 105 COCs counted. At the rate they were going, Congress was expected to proclaim presumptive President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and presumptive Vice President Sara Duterte by the evening of the next day, Wednesday, May 25.
The tone of the official count was set early, on the evening of May 9, election day. The Comelec Transparency Server, which shows the partial, unofficial tally based on real-time transmissions from vote counting machines (VCMs) across the country.
Hours after polls closed, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who campaigned on the promise of unity without detailed platforms, was the apparent winner of the presidential race, leading his 2016 nemesis, the vice president. Leni Robredo, by almost double the number of votes at one point. Davao Mayor Sara Duterte was even more dominant in the running for vice president, getting more than three times the votes of her closest rival, Senator Francis Pangilian, Robredo’s running mate.
Last midnight on May 10, Robredo in Naga City made a statement that, while stopping short of a concession, made it clear she knew who was winning the presidential race.
“Although some have not yet belonged; although there are still questions about this election that need to be addressed: The voice of the people is becoming clearer. In the name of the Philippines which I know you love very much too: we must listen to this voice, because in the end there is only one country that we share,” she says.
(Even though some votes have yet to be counted; even as we continue to ask about this election: The people’s choice is becoming ever clearer. For the sake of the Philippines, which I know you love too : We have to listen to people’s voices because at the end of the day, we live in the same country.)
It was these words, along with excerpts from Robredo’s speech at a thanksgiving rally, that veteran election attorney Romulo Macalintal quoted when telling Congress they would accept all valid COCs during of solicitation. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno’s legal team made the same statements, with his lawyer claiming his side “[recognizes] the integrity of the 2022 national and local elections.
Vic Rodriguez, spokesperson for Marcos Jr. and new executive secretary, thanked Macalintal and Robredo herself in a short response. Addressing her as vice president for the first time, at least in the 2022 election cycle, Rodriguez praised her “patriotism…for expressly acknowledging the integrity and outcome of the recently concluded general election.”
Majority Speaker Martin Romualdez, who is Marcos Jr.’s cousin and Sara Duterte’s co-campaign manager and is set to be House Speaker at the opening of the 19th Congress, walked back the rhetoric of unity, thanking the camps of Robredo and Moreno.
“Indeed, the Uniteam theme is starting to take hold in the country. The healing has begun, let us unite as a nation for and by the Filipino people,” he said at the start of the solicitation.
When the COCs ran out at the ballot box, the process was quick – one of the presidents demonstrated that the election supervisor connected via Zoom. Also on Zoom, they swore under oath that the digital copy of the COCs, sent via the Viber messaging app, was genuine. In the Surigao del Sur case, election officials had apparently mailed the wrong document, with emergencies still in the office. As long as the numbers in the photo of the physical COC sent via Viber matched the electrical certificates, everything was fine.
The 2022 campaign for president and vice president is poised to be the fastest in the Philippines’ electoral history.
In 2016, the count lasted three days even as the team of then vice-presidential candidate Marcos promised to challenge every COC in the count. Duterte and Robredo were both declared winners on Monday after the solicitation ended, although only Robredo — then a House member — showed up in person to be proclaimed.
By contrast, the 2022 count is set to end in two days, with Marcos and Duterte’s proclamation taking place before sunset on May 25.
The announcement by Robredo and Moreno’s legal teams that they would not challenge valid COCs in the count did not bode well for the online crowd, especially online users who campaigned and voted for Robredo. Citing the alleged cases of voter fraud and cheating, many questioned why his team paved the way for Marcos’s proclamation.
But what they miss is the fact that Congress, as NBOC, cannot adjudicate allegations of voter fraud. “We can’t decide whether there’s cheating or not, whether there’s tampering…because we’re not allowed to do that,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said in a statement. a media interview in conjunction with the solicitation.
Drilon, a staunch Robredo ally and incumbent member of the Senate, cited the 2004 tally — of the controversial presidential contest between former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and late movie star Ferdinand Poe — when explaining why he saw “no point of disagreement” in the 2022 count.
“There was so much tension because of the possibility that no president would be proclaimed…. It was so tense at that time that I received many requests – and for the first time, I will reveal – not to proclaim [Arroyo] because of the issues raised in COCs,” he said. While the opposition then questioned the election results (RE), crying fraud, Senator Francis Panglinan sadly replied: “It is noted”.
Pangilinan then defended the decision with the same explanation: canvassers cannot rule on an allegation of cheating because that is the job of the Presidential Election Tribunal.
Senate President Tito Sotto, then an opposition member, also referred to 2004 in a separate press conference on the sidelines of the joint session. “All issues must be resolved – nothing is simply “noted”. Nothing like that. I won’t allow it,” he said.
(All the problems [about COCs] must be resolved. We can’t just use “noted”. This is unacceptable. I won’t allow it.)
Years later, in 2011, Pangilinan would issue a statement calling on both Comelec and the Department of Justice to investigate allegations of fraud against Arroyo in 2004. Drilon also joined calls to investigate those allegations years later. late.
Although no challenges were made during the canvassing, Marcos faces challenges to his candidacy in the Supreme Court.
While the new president and vice president’s ear verse in a campaign song proclaimed a “new Philippines” of “new faces,” the list of canvassers and key new administration officials, as it is typical in Philippine politics, would argue otherwise.
Many canvassers in 2004, the last presidential election to be run manually, are prominent figures again in 2022. Drilon was a key figure in Robredo’s 2022 run, while Pangilinan was his running mate. Sotto, Poe’s campaign manager in 2004, ran for vice president in 2022.
Arroyo, who will return to the House, is seen as having played a key role in Marcos and Duterte’s victory, both in forming the tandem and brokering local alliances for the Uniteam slate.
Zubiri and Romualdez, the NBOC presidents in Batasan, are poised to capture the top positions in their respective chambers, though Romualdez appears to have more in the bag. Both will be remembered for presiding over a record vote tally.
The 2022 polls recorded many other firsts: the first tandem to be elected to power since 2004, the first majority president and vice president, and the first election where systematic online disinformation became a tool of aid. to a campaign.
While the solicitation was finally called off on the first day, after Zubiri and Romualdez praised their colleagues and staff for their fast pace, a resounding voice echoed through the livestream: “Long life! Long live democracy (Long live! Long live democracy!)! – Rappler.com