OPINION: C’mon, Bongbong Marcos, why would Leni Robredo have to cheat in her home province?

Raïssa Robles

Posted at Aug 19 2018 05:47 PM

Or are you hoping the Supreme Court will shave Robredo’s votes for you

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the losing candidate in the 2016 vice presidential election, and the son of the vicious, brutal, plundering dictator, is now accusing Vice President Leni Robredo of cheating in the elections—in her own province.

Why would she need to do this when she had the province of Camarines Sur in the bag long before the May 2016 elections?

Marcos Junior claims he was cheated in CamSur.

He only got 41,219 votes. Robredo won there with 664,190 votes.

Just as Davao region was expected and did vote for its beloved “son” Rodrigo Duterte, Camarines Sur was expected to vote for its beloved “daughter”, Leni.

Even the political kingpins of CamSur predicted her win way before the campaign season started.

In early October 2015, just as Robredo and Marcos Jr. filed their certificates of candidacy, former Camarines Sur Governor Luis “LRay” Villafuerte already said that according to a province-wide political survey, Robredo had the “edge” in the province in the six-way race.

As for the Nacionalista Party (of which he was the provincial chair), LRay said NP was setting a “free zone” policy in Camarines Sur for the VP race since three of the six candidates were party mates.

However, LRay’s son, Camarines Sur Governor Miguel “Migz” Villafuerte told reporters: “We will support Leni Robredo. So it’s Grace (Poe for President) and Leni (for VP) in Camarines Sur.” The word “WE” referred to father and son.

With that kind of formidable political support, in terms of political campaigning and logistics, why would Robredo need to cheat in Camarines Sur?

It’s like accusing the Marcoses of cheating to win in Ilocos Norte.

So, why accuse Robredo of cheating in her very own bailiwick?

The reason only became clear to me—and I realized what Marcos Jr. was up to—when I read the column of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban.

CJ Panganiban, in his column on the “Unintended peril in VP local protest”, explained that Bongbong was insisting that the ballot recount should use a “50% shading rule” on the ovals.

This was even though the Commission on Elections had calibrated the automated voting machines to recognize the 25% shading rule of the ovals.

Because the voting machines were programmed for a 25% shading rule, Marcos Jr. was insisting that a manual recount be done.

CJ Panganiban explained the significance of a 25% shading rule this way:

“In other words, the ovals did not have to be shaded completely. Even if a ballot was just crossed with lines or marked with dots covering at least 25 percent of the ovals, the machine would count it, because the voter had already shown his/her intent to vote for the candidate concerned.”

He then explained the impact of adopting the higher 50% shading rule that Marcos Jr. wanted:

“In contrast, the higher 50-percent threshold would disenfranchise voters who shaded their ballots between the “25- and 50-percent gap.

Thus, a ballot shaded partially to the extent, for example, of 40 percent would be tallied by the automated machines during the counting in the precincts and the canvassing, but NOT during the manual ballot revision at the PET where they would not be counted.”

CJ Panganiban then pointed out that Robredo obtained 664,190 votes in Camarines Sur, compared to the 41,219 votes received by Marcos Jr. there.

A 50% shading rule, he said, could make Robredo lose 33,209 votes.

In other words, her votes would be shaved if the Presidential Electoral Tribunal sides with Marcos Jr.

Marcos’ underlying assertion here is that he should have gotten MORE.

So why did Bongbong only get 41,219 votes in CamSur?

There are three possible reasons for this and all have nothing to do with cheating.

ONE. Voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who visits them during the campaign. It’s the personal touch. It shows the candidate cares.

Marcos Jr. NEVER VISITED CamSur.

He did visit neighboring Camarines Norte once, like an afterthought—on April 29, 2016. Or TEN DAYS BEFORE THE POLLS.

TWO. There were SIX VP candidates and FIVE OF THEM came from the Bicol Region where CamSur is.

Only Marcos Jr. was NOT from the region. Still, he did better than the other four.

THREE. Marcos Jr. abandoned his father’s party, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), and ran as an INDEPENDENT. Meaning, he was not relying on any party structure to help him win.

Even if he had relied on the KBL, he would not have won because the lone KBL candidate in CamSur—Roger Buenaflor running for governor—got only 6,559 votes. The victor, Migz Villafuerte, got 409,788 votes.

FOUR. Because it was a six-way race, the votes in CamSur were divided six ways.

Still, Marcos Jr. came in a far second. Here’s how the vote count went:

Robredo —664,190
Marcos Jr. —41,219
Escudero, Chiz — 37, 122
Cayetano, Alan Peter — 14,933
Trillanes, Antonio IV—11,468

The combined votes cast for six candidates reached 768,932.

Camarines Sur had a total number of 1,001,870 registered voters during the 2016 elections. The Comelec said, of this number, 841,496 voters actually voted. This made the voter turn-out at 83.99%.

This was about average compared to the rest of the provinces. You can download the Comelec stats here for comparison.

Of the total votes [841,496] cast, Robredo got 78.9% of the votes in CamSur. A landslide any way you look at it.

Recall though, that the total number of votes cast for the six VP candidates reached 768,932.

If you deduct the total number of votes cast for the VP candidates from the Comelec voter turnout, it means 72,564 or 8.6% did not vote for ANY of the SIX VP candidates.

In other words, of those who had turned out, 72,564 did not vote for ANY VP. Or maybe had their votes invalidated by the machine. We don’t know.

Is this sinister and foul?

Before we can conclude this, we will need to examine whether such a trend of voters going to the polls but not voting at all for a president or VP is evident in other provinces.

From my coverage of previous elections I have seen the same trend. Not everyone votes for the VP or the president.

Bongbong’s home province of Ilocos Norte showed the same trend. The total votes cast for all six VP candidates there were 308,594.

Of that, he got 298,796 votes. An impressive 96% win.

However, Comelec said 323,138 voters actually turned out. Deducting the total number of votes for all six VP candidates from the voter turnout, this means 14,544 or 4.5% of voters who cast their votes DID NOT CHOOSE TO VOTE FOR THE GRANDSON OF BATAC, nor any other VP candidate.

This concrete example using Bongbong’s bailiwick is merely to show that a portion of the electorate does not vote for the president or the VP.

I obtained the Ilocos vote figures I used as an example from here.

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Aside from the percentage of shading, Marcos Jr. has claimed “massive cheating” due to the absence of “voter’s receipts” inside ballot boxes in CamSur.

My question is, how secure were the ballot boxes in CamSur after election day and before these were opened for recounting? Were they guarded 24/7?

Because, please recall the break-in many years ago right inside the heavily secured Batasang Pambansa. Contested ballots inside ballot boxes were the target of that break-in.

You can read more about the Batasan break-in here.

What I’m asking is, were the contested ballot boxes in CamSur so secure that even the Marcos camp could not break into them and mess them up?

If they were not properly secured, then any questions by the Marcos camp of missing documents cannot be properly validated as cheating.

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Another “proof” that Marcos Jr. presented was the presence of square shapes instead of oval shapes in the copy of the printed ballot images found in the digital cards that were ordered decrypted by the court.

He called them “shocking” and “highly questionable”. But he also said this change was done by the Comelec and Smartmatic, not by Robredo.

So he has to prove collusion between Robredo on the one hand and Comelec and Smartmatic on the other.

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The Marcos camp has clearly proven it would go to any lengths to claim cheating. Recall the incident when they accused Robredo’s revisor of colluding with PET personnel. The photo they presented as evidence was from an outing of PET personnel with her revisor in a Laguna resort.

It turned out that PET had invited both camps. Marcos’ revisor did not go but had sent food to the outing.

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Then remember the flood of “whistle blowers” – bundled and masked like ninjas—that the Marcos camp – aided by Pastor “Boy” Saycon presented to the public just hours before Robredo was proclaimed winner.

It was obviously an attempt to stop her from being proclaimed.

The heavily bundled-up witnesses claimed they were made to reconfigure SD cards with votes from Quezon province. One of them alleged that this resulted in:

Robredo gaining 300,000 votes;
her presidential running mate Mar Roxas gained 400,000 votes; and
Marcos Jr. losing 200,000 votes.
Saycon told the media he did not bring the SD cards as proof. You can read more about their claims here.

Since Robredo’s lead over Marcos Jr. in the final count was only 263,473, the testimony of the three whistleblowers — that they padded Robredo’s tally in Quezon with 300,000 fraudulent votes — would have been damning, and enough to overturn Robredo’s proclamation as winner.

And yet, Marcos Jr. did not include Quezon province in his pilot protest. He only included the provinces of CamSur, Negros Oriental and Iloilo.

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Before closing, I must mention the oft-repeated accusation by Marcos Jr. —that he was leading initially in the count. But in the dead of night, cheating happened and by the following day he was losing.

I noticed the same trend of of an early Marcos lead after the polls closed. I stayed up nearly the whole night waiting to see if the trend would hold.

In the early hours after midnight, the trend started reversing slowly. Marcos’ lead slowly melted away.

But I would not attribute this immediately to cheating but to the fact that votes from Robredo’s bailiwick had started being tallied by the central servers in Manila. The basis for the quick counts on TV were the Comelec servers.

Whenever I cover elections I always keep in mind that while voting happens simultaneously for one day all over the country, counting does not. In some places, the counting may be delayed for various reasons.

What the PET needs to establish is the digital sequence of when votes from towns and cities of which provinces started coming in to Comelec’s central servers in Manila.

Did the votes from Bongbong’s bailiwick come in first, resulting in his early lead? Only to be inundated by votes from Robredo’s bailiwick provinces?

PET needs to ask a data expert who can interpret the digital election transmission data.

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I really wish PET would put online its proceedings so that we may better understand automated elections. Even only via audio stream.

After all, it’s our votes they are talking about.

Any decision of theirs to raise the shading threshold means scrapping the votes of thousands.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.