THE vice-presidential race ostensibly looks like a tight contest between Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. and Rep. Leni Robredo, but in reality it is a contest between Bongbong and President Benigno BS Aquino III.
Robredo is only a surrogate for Aquino and his administration. Marcos represented only himself, although some insisted during the campaign on portraying him as the bid of the Marcoses to return to power.
President Aquino himself turned the political battle into a contest of surrogates by declaring his absolute opposition to Bongbong’s winning of the vice-presidency, when pre-election polls increasingly and persistently showed BBM winning by a comfortable margin. PNoy pledged during the campaign to do all to prevent a Marcos victory. He said he would even lead a people power protest to stop a Marcos proclamation.
Aquino used the traditional EDSA day rites in February as the opening shot for his stop Bongbong campaign, when he delivered a bizarre speech protesting a New York Times article that signaled to the world the prospective return of a Marcos heir to high office, and offered reasons why BBM enjoyed such high popularity and support in the campaign. I commented at the time on his speech that Aquino was like King Canute commanding the waves to stop from flowing ashore.
Robredo’s rise as a candidate
I thought the natural course of events would take care of the rest, but in point of fact Aquino would try to reverse the movement of the waves and the tides. He would use all the powers and resources of the presidency to prevent Bongbong from winning. He would use public money (the budget) for electioneering in a way that no president before him ever dared. He would deploy the entire government bureaucracy to campaign for his candidates.
It was in these circumstances that Robredo surreptitiously rose in importance as a candidate. Although other vice-presidential candidates were performing better than her in the surveys, administration strategists commissioned rigged surveys to prop up Robredo in the polls, portraying her as the strongest alternative to Bongbong.
Meanwhile, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was laying the final touches on his strategy for catapulting Mar Roxas to the presidency. Just as he invented the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to give the President free rein in the use of the national budget, he invented Bottom-up Budgeting (BUB) as the vehicle to make Roxas electable all over the archipelago. By using Roxas as the agent for the delivery of millions of public money to local governments, this would erase Jejomar Binay’s vaunted strength at the grassroots.
They did not count on two factors that would militate against them: (1) the sudden and rapid emergence of Rodrigo Duterte as a major and, eventually, irresistible presidential candidate, and (2) Roxas’s total lack of charisma and unsalability to the masses.
When the writing on the wall said that Roxas couldn’t win, no matter how many billions were diverted from public coffers, the administration shifted its sights to making Leni Robredo win instead. This was the genesis of Plan B, which my colleague Kit Tatad was first to expose in the media. By this, they would fulfill the President’s vow to prevent a Marcos victory. And they would have the option of impeaching Duterte—if he won—and installing their own (Robredo) in the presidency.
Robredo’s rise is remarkable in every way because there is virtually nothing in her background and credentials to suggest that she has what it takes to be vice president and potential successor to the presidency. Her stint in the House of Representatives was uneventful. And she had no standing in the liberal Party that would suggest that she could lead this band of traditional politicians.
Conspiracy for electronic fraud
As a final leg for the administration’s scheme to hold on to power, they set in motion a scheme to cheat at the polls. If the administration could not buy those who will vote, they will control and buy those who will count the votes.
Their ace in the hole was Smartmatic, the systems provider for the automated election. As in elections past, Smartmatic would provide the technical means to manipulate the election results in favor of the administration’s favored candidates.
Their second card was the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which manages the balloting by law, and whose chairman is a relative of Aquino’s and a former campaign strategist of Roxas. Comelec would facilitate the conspiracy to cheat.
The third card was the deployment of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) as election watchdog, who would conduct an unofficial count of the election results, and would preempt the official canvass. PPCRV would produce and certify rigged results from Smartmatic and Comelec.
Finally, the conspiracy would rely on yellow media to announce the rigged results to the populace.
Duterte tsunami of votes
What gummed up the works was the Duterte tsunami of votes on Election Day, which no amount of vote buying and cheating could stop.
When Duterte proved unstoppable, the administration turned its attention to denying Bongbong his electoral victory. They would produce Robredo as the winner in the vice-presidential contest through the manipulation of data and the bending of the rules by Comelec.
As this is written, the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) has entered its third day of canvassing of the election results.
The official tally of votes for president indicates no deviation from the unofficial results produced by PPCRV. Duterte is leading the field by a very large margin. He is just hours away from securing certain victory.
In the vice-presidential contest, the count shows a reverse of what the PPCRV reported in its count. Marcos is leading Robredo by over 83,000 votes after two days of counting.
Time will tell whether this lead will vanish just as his 1-million-vote lead vanished from the Comelec transparency server on election night.
At the close of canvassing yesterday, I expect that there will be an indicator of who has really won in the vice-presidential contest.
Marcos looks all set to win it all, but you can never be sure that some late-arriving certificates of canvass (COC) will not produce a flood of Robredo votes, courtesy of the administration, and enough to overtake Bongbong.
Protests from both the Marcos and Robredo camps will prolong the proceedings, as they will tend to delay the canvass of specific COCs.
Nonetheless, it is reasonable to expect that Congress, through the NBOC, can proclaim the winners for president and vice-president by Monday (May 30) or Tuesday (May 31).
Getting PH democracy back on track
The proclamation of winning candidates will end the suspense for the public and the candidates; but it will not end the questions and problems that the nation must address and resolve in this most disturbing election in the nation’s history and to get Philippine democracy back on track.
The personality of President Aquino perverted the election in ways that only he could. An examination of the records, and a systems audit of the automated election system will show just how perverted the 2016 election was.