‘Excited, hysterical, ridiculous, frivolous’
Throw everything on the wall—or, in this case, at the public—and see what sticks: That seems to be the playbook of the camp of defeated vice-presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., which in the last couple of weeks has ramped up its by-now-regular fusillades against Vice President Leni Robredo, whom it alleges to have cheated in the last elections.
In a press conference on Jan. 29, the late dictator’s son and namesake presented what he claimed were copies of documents from the Presidential Election Tribunal that would show election results in a number of towns in Negros Oriental and Camarines Sur that were “shocking and highly questionable.” The papers were proof, he said in an appropriately outraged tone, that Robredo “had manipulated the voting and trampled upon the true will of the people on their choice for vice president.”
Isn’t this rich. But set aside for now the unmitigated irony of the scion of the conjugal dictatorship, which perfected the art of rigging elections in this country, sputtering about the true will of the people being trampled upon. Strictly on the basis of the documents, was he on to something?
Veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, Robredo’s lead counsel, was having none of it. He said that Marcos Jr.’s claim was “excited and hysterical,” and that the “allegedly uncovered ‘solid and incontrovertible evidence of massive fraud that transpired in the 2016 elections’ based on their own copies of alleged ballot images of ballots used in the said election is highly ridiculous, if not outright frivolous.”
Not only might the alleged discrepancies in the ballot images Marcos Jr. presented be “fabricated or manufactured,” according to Macalintal, the idea that there was “massive fraud” based only on five ballot images at hand was also laughable. Besides, none of the supposedly affected precincts registered any kind of protest or complaint about the results from the myriad observers present during the polls—among them the candidates’ watchers, media and foreign observers, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, and other citizen arms of the Commission on Elections.
Marcos Jr. tried to up the ante a few days later with what, in local show-biz parlance, would be called another “pasabog” (gimmick): He was shown in pictures shared on social media signing a document to withdraw all motions pending with the Supreme Court-PET and go straight to the recount, and daring Robredo to sign it as well. The intent, of course, was to cast Robredo as the stumbling block to the speedy resolution of the election protest.
Except that Macalintal was more than willing to call the bluff and sign on Robredo’s behalf—just not the document Marcos Jr. brandished. Making mincemeat of the opposing camp, Macalintal pointed out that Marcos Jr. had in fact committed a “great blunder” by signing the wrong document. His camp had prepared a joint manifestation, not a joint motion, and per the Supreme Court, Macalintal said, manifestations are made “merely for the information of the Court.”
In other words, what Marcos Jr. signed to great fanfare from his side of the fence was a worthless piece of paper, and not the kind of official document worth its time in court. Furthermore, revealed Macalintal, it was not even Robredo’s camp that has outstanding motions with the PET, but Marcos Jr., “who has a pending motion for reconsideration on the resolution of the Supreme Court allowing us to have copies of the ballot images.”
The “manifestation” was all for show, recalling the oversize cardboard bank “waiver” that then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte and his running mate Alan Peter Cayetano once dared other candidates to sign during the election campaign—a promise that has gone aggressively unmentioned these days.
His sham stunt revealed for what it was, Marcos Jr. has likewise gone mute for now. Someone in his camp ought to be fired.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.