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Asserting 'poll fraud', protesters reject Marcos victory at Comelec HQ

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Hundreds of protesters surrounded the front of the Commission on Elections headquarters in Intramuros, Manila on Tuesday to reject the apparent victory of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as president as they claimed the polls were tainted by fraud.

Marcos has sustained an insurmountable lead of over 16 million votes over his closest rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, according to partial, unofficial results from the Comelec’s transparency server.

Despite what appears to be a decisive victory for the son and namesake of the former dictator who was ousted 36 years ago through the People Power Revolution, some doubt the preliminary results of the elections primarily due to hitches experienced during its conduct.

“Running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes, one of the people before the Comelec headquarters on the morning after the elections, cast doubt on the speed of the transmission of votes, particularly since some 1,800 vote-counting machines malfunctioned on election day, by the poll body’s count.

“It was so fast, that our conclusion is that it's magical. It was a magical moment. But what kind of magical? A dark magical moment in Philippine history,” Reyes said. “We’re not mesmerized. We’re not bewitched. We’re not enthralled,” Reyes told reporters partly in Filipino as he was helping set up a shrine to the Virgin Mary.

Reyes and his group were gearing to pray for the 11th straight week before the Comelec office for clean elections when a massive group of students began marching towards the poll body’s headquarters to conduct a much angrier protest.

Chanting various calls against martial law, the Comelec, the Marcoses, and President Rodrigo Duterte, the protesters massed up and surrounded the front of the Comelec office, with police being the only barriers from them charging further forward.

“The conclusion of these elections is simple. This is the worst. This is the most rotten. And this is the most shameless when it comes to cheating,” Kontra Daya convenor Danilo Arao said during the protest.

Much like Reyes and other speakers during the protest, Arao pointed to the hiccups experienced during the elections as possible sources of fraud, even though the Comelec has said that these did not affect the credibility of the polls.

As of 11:17 a.m. Tuesday, Marcos leads the presidential race in the partial, unofficial results from Comelec data with 30,790,621 votes. Robredo is in second with 14,694,836 votes.

In the vice presidential race, Marcos’ running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, ranks first with 31,202,591 followed by Robredo’s running mate, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, with 9,151,555.

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