Philippine presidential candidate Robredo bows out, urges supporters to accept Marcos win

Jojo Riñoza and Basilio Sepe
2022.05.13
Manila
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Philippine presidential candidate Robredo bows out, urges supporters to accept Marcos win Philippine opposition presidential candidate Leni Robredo speaks to supporters during a farewell rally at the Ateneo de Manila University in northern Manila, May 13, 2022.
Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews

Philippine opposition leader Leni Robredo bowed out of the presidential race Friday as she urged her supporters to accept that she lost the election to Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Thirty-one million Filipinos voted for Marcos in a landslide, according to partial, unofficial counts of ballots cast in the May 9 general election. The son of the late Philippines dictator got more than twice the number of votes than those who picked Robredo, the incumbent vice-president, to become the Southeast Asian nation’s 17th chief executive.

“We need to accept the decision of the majority and I implore everyone to be with me on this,” Robredo told thousands of supporters during a rally at Ateneo de Manila University. 

“I ask you to be one with me in this – be determined not to waste all we’ve achieved so far, while we respect the voice of the many,” she said. “Let your tears flow. But after you’re done, wipe away the tears because there is still work ahead.”

Robredo was the last of the presidential contenders to admit defeat. Eight others, including world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso, had conceded earlier in the week. 

In her speech, Robredo did not use the word “concession” but alleged there were instances of vote buying and defective vote-counting machines that needed to be investigated.  

Still, she said, the “largest threat and enemy” was the political machinery of enemies who had “spread anger and lies.” 

“This machinery stole the truth, stole history and stole the future,” Robredo said.

During the campaign, analysts said Robredo was targeted in disinformation campaigns to tamp voters’ enthusiasm. 

While it is unlikely that she would consider another run for public office, Robredo on Friday said that the ground-based volunteer work begun by her campaign should continue. 

“We connected those who were ready to help to those who needed help. Now, we’re more organized, there are many people’s councils, many groups that were formed among our ranks,” Robredo said. “We’ve shown what we can reach, if we all contribute.”

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Philippine opposition presidential candidate Leni Robredo (pink shirt, mask) greets supporters during a rally at the Ateneo de Manila University, May 13, 2022. [Basilio Sepe/BenarNews]

Duterte-Carpio: ‘We have to be magnanimous’

Robredo’s supporters have accused Marcos and his running mate, Sara Duterte-Carpio, of cheating, although they did not present real evidence to back up the claims.

Duterte-Carpio is the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, whose six-year term ends in late June.

Duterte-Carpio also won easily in this week’s vice-presidential election.

In the Philippines, the president and vice president are elected separately. In some instances, as was the case with President Duterte and Vice-President Robredo, the top two office holders in the country can come from different parties, and can even be political opponents.

Earlier on Friday, Duterte-Carpio, who is expected to take the education portfolio under Marcos’ incoming government, extended a hand of reconciliation to Robredo supporters and called on those who voted for her and Marcos to do the same. 

“Let us be the ones to approach the supporters of other losing candidates. Let us be humble because we are the ones who won,” Duterte-Carpio said. 

“We have to be magnanimous because we are only 31.5 million. We need them so that we can be at 100 percent in the country,” she said. 

She noted that the campaign season had caused heated arguments and divisions between supporters of both sides, but now was the time to put those divisions to rest.

“Let’s finish politicking,” she said. “It is proper that those who were elected should lead and ensure that the right services be extended to all, whether they be supporters or not. 

“I am asking for your continued support for the president – all the more that BBM needs your support as the new president of the Philippines. He will not need your support so he can fulfill his mandate,” Duterte-Carpio said, referring to Marcos Jr. by an acronym of his nickname, Bongbong.

Allies cruise to victory

In other election-related news, allies of Marcos-Duterte appear likely to dominate the Senate and the House of Representatives because they won their elections as well. In addition, relatives and associates have won local posts.

Marcos Jr.’s son, Sandro Marcos, 28, was elected to the House in Ilocos Norte, the family’s bailiwick, and his nephew, Matthew Marcos Manotoc, was elected governor.

An analyst, meanwhile, said the lack of minority-party lawmakers could hurt the Philippines.

“It’s going to be problematic because an opposition is very much needed in a democracy,” Jean Franco, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, told a local television station. “There has to be alternative ideas and there has to be monitoring of what the executive is doing, otherwise, we will be like North Korea.”

Marcos Jr.’s apparent win has created concern for rights activists and those who fought the regime of his father, dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. A peaceful People’s Power uprising in 1986 forced Marcos from office and into exile in Hawaii, where he died in 1989.

This week, Marcos Jr.’s spokesman ignored a reporter’s questions about an outstanding contempt order by a U.S. court against him and his mother, Imelda, as representatives of Marcos Sr.’s estate. The family is known to have plundered up to U.S. $10 billion from the nation’s coffers.

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Police block protesters denouncing the results of the presidential election outside the Philippine International Convention Center complex in Metro Manila, May 13, 2022. [Jojo Riñoza/BenarNews]

During the electoral campaign, Marcos kept his distance from journalists and refused to take part in televised debates with other candidates.

Earlier this month, the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) complained that some of its members were even harassed physically or online by supporters of Marcos.

“As Marcos prepares to assume the presidency on June 30, his contempt for the media could pose serious risks for democracy in the Philippines,” said Carlos Conde, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch. 

“Ignoring critical publications is bad enough, but Marcos Jr. will have tools at his disposal to muzzle the media in a manner that the elder Marcos, no supporter of press freedom, could only dream of,” he said.

 

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