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Comelec’s challenge

Protesters have surrounded the Commission on Elections headquarters in Intramuros, Manila yesterday to reject the apparent victory of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as president, claiming that the May 9 polls were tainted with fraud.

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

However, the decisive victory for the son and namesake of the former dictator who was ousted by the People Power Revolution of 1986 is being doubted by the protesters, especially the preliminary results of the elections, due to several hitches experienced throughout the conduct of the polls.

As of 11:17 a.m. yesterday, Marcos leads the presidential race in the partial, unofficial results from Comelec data with a whopping 30,790,621 votes while Robredo is trailing far behind with only 14,694,836 votes. In the vice-presidential race, Marcos’ running mate, Davao City mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte has garnered 31,202,591 votes followed by Robredo’s running mate, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan with 9,151,555.

“Running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes, one of the people at 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 were reported to have malfunctioned on election day.

Reyes was joined by a massive group of students who were conducting a much angrier protest, chanting calls against martial law, the Comelec, the Marcoses, and President Rodrigo Duterte as they surrounded the area fronting the Comelec office that was protected by a layer of policemen.

Kontra Daya convenor Danilo Arao pointed to the hiccups experienced during the elections as possible sources of fraud, even though the Comelec claims that these did not affect the credibility of the polls.

Philippine elections have always been characterized by losers who claim to be cheated and every time, it is only the credibility of the Comelec that prevents those claims from bubbling over. This year, as such claims are being raised once more, the job of ensuring the Filipino people that the elections were held fairly and properly falls upon that constitutional body.

Where the country will go in the next few days will depend on the Comelec’s ability to go beyond rhetoric and come up with the audits and receipts to disprove all suspicions of cheating or tampering so we can all get on with our lives and continue the arduous task of nation building in genuine peace and unity.*

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