Suspense: Nation awaits verdict on Leni-Bongbong case

Like most Filipinos, I am eagerly awaiting the Supreme Court’s announcement on the manual recount conducted by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal for ballots cast in the provinces of Iloilo, Negros Oriental and Camarines Sur in the May 2016 elections for Vice President.

It’s been three years since former Senator Bongbong Marcos filed a protest on the results of the elections and challenged the victory of Leni Robredo in the VP race. Based on the results, Robredo narrowly defeated Marcos by 263,473 votes. It was a hairline victory at best, and Marcos’s protest has drawn widespread belief that he is the rightful VP.

On Sept. 10, 2019, the Supreme Court spokesman, Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka, told media that the PET chaired by Justice Benjamin Caguioa, had submitted the results of its revision for the three pilot provinces. He declined to give a clue on the contents of the report.

The announcement triggered a flood of speculations in social media. Was there really fraud in these three provinces? If we look back to the revision activities during last year, there were instances when tell-tale signs of ballot boxes being compromised were discovered. The ballot boxes have security features to ensure that the contents are not manipulated or destroyed. The condition of many boxes put the integrity of the ballots in question.

We can imagine our Supreme Court Justices going over the PET report with a fine-toothed comb. As Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin said, the High Court has to go carefully on this matter because of the paramount public interest involved. But we also hope that the agonizing wait will not last too long. Filipinos want to know the truth.

Marcos needs only to prove one thing with this first phase of the protest: that indeed, cheating had taken place in the three pilot provinces. Nobody can tell as yet on just how much cheating did take place, if any. But a finding to that effect would be fatal to Robredo even if the recount’s results fail to change the result to favor Marcos.