It’s VP Leni

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

Marcos loses by 263,473 votes

MANILA, Philippines - From one percent to vice president.

Leni Robredo, who started out at the bottom of the heap when she threw her hat into the vice presidential derby, has been elected as the nation’s second highest official.

On the day Robredo marked her late husband Jesse’s 58th birth anniversary, Congress finished its official vote canvassing at 7:20 last night, with the final tally showing the Camarines Sur representative beating Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. by a narrow 263,473 votes.

Based on the official tally by the joint Senate-House of Representatives canvassing committee chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel lll and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales ll, Robredo received 14,418,817 votes against Marcos’ 14,155,344.

In the presidential race, the official tally showed that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte won by a landslide with 16,601,997 votes, followed by administration standard bearer Manuel Roxas II with 9,978,175 votes, Sen. Grace Poe with 9,100,991, Vice President Jejomar Binay with 5,416,140, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago with 1,455,532 and the late Roy Señeres with 25,779 votes.

The outcome was a dramatic culmination of Robredo’s initially reluctant quest for the vice presidency.

In the Pulse Asia survey from May 3 to June 5 last year, when she was first included as a likely contender for the vice presidency, Robredo garnered a score of one percent.

The number inched up to three percent in surveys by the same pollster in August-September, then to 10 percent in the Nov. 11-12 survey after she announced she would join the race in October as the runningmate of Liberal Party standard bearer Roxas.

In the final weeks before the May 9 general elections, Robredo and Marcos overtook long-time frontrunner Sen. Francis Escudero of the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

Robredo and Marcos remained neck-and-neck in the final pre-election surveys.

The joint canvassing committee tabulated a total of 167 certificates of canvass (COCs) containing 42,578,614 votes for president and 41,066,884 votes for vice president.

Marcos’ 83,500-vote lead over Robredo on Thursday was wiped out yesterday when COCs from Zamboanga del Norte, Maguindao and Lanao del Sur were canvassed.

The administration candidate clobbered her opponent in the three provinces.

Zamboanga del Norte gave Robredo 209,491 votes as against Marcos’ 72,255. In Maguindanao, she garnered 220,125 votes against her closest rival’s 80,591. In Lanao del Sur, 180,539 voted for Robredo while 56,243 chose Marcos.

The senator from Ilocos Norte recovered in Sulu, which gave him 127,437 votes as against his opponent’s 46,218.

By the time all provincial COCs had been tallied and only local and overseas absentee voting certificates had to be tabulated, Robredo led Marcos by 241,000 votes.

It was clear that the administration candidate had defeated her closest rival, since the local and overseas absentee votes, even if all were credited to Marcos, were not enough to wipe out her lead.

Marcos, who has not conceded defeat, won in the local and overseas absentee voting.

In third place in the vice presidential race was Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano with 5,903,379 votes, followed by Sen. Francis Escudero with 4,931,962, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV with 868,501 and Sen. Gregorio Honasan with 788,881 votes.   

Irregularities were noted in some provincial COCs, including those for Lanao del Sur and Northern Samar.

However, on questioning by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City and Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Cavite, the concerned election officers provided satisfactory explanations, prompting the canvassing panel to include the certificates in the tally.

Rodriguez said in the case of the Northern Samar COC, the Commission on Elections authorized the manual corrections made by the election officer as reflected in the certificate.

During the entire canvassing process, lawyers for Marcos made manifestations on the so-called “under-votes.”

These are the discrepancies between the votes cast for president and those cast for vice president.

Marcos’ lawyer George Garcia said there is an under-vote when a voter chooses a president and does not vote for a vice president and vice versa.

Though this does not indicate fraud, Garcia said it could be a ground for an election protest that Marcos might file with the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

Robredo’s counsel Romulo Macalintal said under-voting does not mean that a presidential or vice presidential candidate is robbed of a vote.

“A voter leaves the space blank or abstains from voting, so there is no vote. Therefore, there is no irregularity,” Macalintal said.

He said there were under-votes or abstentions for all candidates, from president down to the lowest-ranking elective official.

He added Marcos’ camp was making an issue out of a non-issue.

Gonzales said the joint canvassing panel would now prepare a report to be submitted to the joint session of Congress, which will resume on Monday at 2 p.m.

The winners will be proclaimed after Congress approves the report.

Gonzales said this year’s canvass could be the fastest post-martial law tabulation.

He noted that then Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was proclaimed president-elect on June 9, 2010, while President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was declared reelected in the early morning hours of June 24, 2004.

Duterte announced last Monday that he would not attend his proclamation by Congress.

In previous congressional canvasses, winners showed up at the joint session of Congress to receive their certificates of proclamation.


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