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With Due Respect

Marcos lost in 2016, remains viable in 2022

The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, dismissed, 15-0, the election protest lodged by former senator Bongbong Marcos against VP Leni Robredo for “lack of merit.”

The full text of the decision, dated Feb. 16, upholding Leni’s lawyers led by Romulo Macalintal, was released only a week ago though the dismissal was made public on the same date (Feb. 16). Ably written by Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, the decision debunked the three causes of action raised by Bongbong’s lawyers led by George Garcia.

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The first cause to nullify the Certificates of Canvass for being allegedly “not authentic” was thrown out during the Pre-Trial Conference on Aug. 29, 2017.

The second cause involved the revision and recount of the ballots in 36,465 clustered precincts. However, “[b]ased on the final tally, after revision and appreciation, the Tribunal found that protestee [Leni] increased her lead over protestant [Bongbong] from 263,473 votes to 278,566 votes” in the three pilot provinces (Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental) chosen by Bongbong.

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The third cause — the “annulment of the election results… in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan on the ground of terrorism, intimidation and harassment of voters as well as pre-shading of ballots in all of the 2,756 protested clustered precincts”—was also junked because the “[p]rotestant utterly failed to allege that protestee instigated the electoral irregularities complained of, let alone prove (them).”

Despite miserably failing in his legal battle, Bongbong remains a viable, even strong, contender in the 2022 presidential race. He rated quite well (13 percent) in the face-to-face survey of Pulse Asia, second only to Sara Duterte (27 percent) and marginally ahead of Grace Poe (12 percent), Isko Moreno (12 percent), and Manny Pacquiao (11 percent).

Significantly, the survey was conducted last Feb. 22 to March 3, after it was already publicly known he had lost his vice presidential protest. Even more significant, the survey was for president, not for vice president.

VP Leni (7 percent) came in only at the 6th spot. Unlike Bongbong, she apparently failed to take advantage of the political worth of her sweeping legal victory. She was trailed by Bong Go (5 percent), Jojo Binay (3 percent), Ping Lacson (2 percent) and Alan Peter Cayetano (2 percent).

Bongbong has 15 days from his receipt of the decision within which to file a motion for reconsideration. While I cannot imagine how a 15-0 decision could be reversed, still I think Bongbong will file an MR even if only to strengthen his political stock for the 2022 elections.

With the deadline for filing certificates of candidacy about five months away, it is time to talk of the 2022 elections. The latest Pulse Asia survey, while authentic, failed to include some formidable political personalities like Frank Drilon, Mark Villar, Gwen Garcia, and Win Gatchalian.

Brilliant, diligent, and with no pork barrel or other scandals haunting him, Frank is the most experienced public servant around. He had served as executive secretary, justice secretary, and labor secretary. He has been elected senator for four terms (24 years), topping the race in 2016, and had been Senate president several times.

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Mark is heir to the robust political and financial empire of his father Manny and his mother Cynthia, backed up by the barangay-level Nacionalista Party. As the current public works secretary, he has more than proven his mettle in the “Build, build, build” program.

Gwen leads the most populous province in the Visayas. She has proven her vote-getting ability, fortified by her powerful regional bloc, “One Cebu.” She can very well combine with the Solid North of Bongbong.

A low profile achiever, Win—as his name implies—has never lost an election, from mayor of Valenzuela to congressman to senator. As a young, rising star of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, he could provide economic expertise to a Sara presidency under the banner, “Kay SARA, WIN tayo.”

How about Tony Carpio? Well, he is not a candidate. He leads 1Sambayan in searching for a worthy candidate with a reasonable chance of winning.

At bottom, a continuing Pulse Asia and/or SWS survey on these teams would be interesting: Sara-Win (or Bong-Digong) as the administration bets; Frank-Leni (or vice versa) as the opposition tandem; Bongbong-Gwen as the regional favorites; Manny-Mark as the populist choices; Isko-Ping as the surprise duo; and Grace-Tito (Sotto) as the competent celebrity team.

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TAGS: 2022 presidential elections, Artemio V. Panganiban, Bongbong Marcos, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, With Due Respect
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