Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Calming effects of credible polls noted in Philippines; losing bet finds no cheating

Source: Emilio @13thfool

The run-up to the 2022 Philippine elections went down as one of the most acrimonious and polarizing few months in the Southeast Asian country’s history. Emotions ran high as partisans for frontrunners Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., and former Vice President Leni Robredo went at each other tooth and nail throughout the campaign.

Marcos eventually won by a landslide, sewing up 31 million votes to Robredo’s 15 million. The generally regarded smooth conduct of the elections also worked to quell the noise and defuse tensions, paving the way for an uneventful transition of power.

Despite calls for her to contest the results, Robredo chose to quietly accept them, an act which many observers believe was crucial in de-escalating tensions and calming the country.

Recently, Robredo went on record with author and journalist Ninotchka Rosca in New York City, to state more explicitly that her team found no evidence of cheating, giving observers hope that her statement would finally quash the lowkey-but-persistent calls to challenge the election results.

“Right after the elections, we formed a team of lawyers and we formed a team of computer experts to look into allegations of cheating,” Robredo said in an interview.

“We participated in all the third-party audits that were conducted, and our lawyers and our computer experts did not see anything. We don’t want to file a case only to keep your hopes up,” she added.

She also referenced the elections in 2016, where she narrowly defeated Marcos in the vice-presidential race, which the latter contested via an electoral protest. The case dragged on for years and provided fodder for a disinformation campaign that observers say hurt Robredo’s image. The case was terminated in 2020 when the Supreme Court upheld Robredo’s win.

“We did not want to do what was done to me in 2016,” she added.

Robredo’s lawyer, Emil Marañon, admitted that their camp actively looked for evidence of fraud but found none.

“Trust me, we started with disbelief [about the results] and we are dying to find something to answer the call of the supporters [to protest], but there was none. The numbers checked,” Marañon said.

Robredo’s statements are the latest testimony to the credibility of the 2022 vote. The election watchdogs Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) had said within days of the elections that it could not find any irregularities surrounding the conduct of the polls.

Election credibility in the Philippines has been on the rise since the country adopted an automated election system. A post-election survey by Pulse Asia revealed that 90% of Filipino voters believe the elections to be credible and want all future elections to be automated.

According to Pulse Asia President Ronald Holmes, Filipinos generally feel that cheating was less pervasive in the 2022 elections and that “the vote count was faster and the results remain credible.”

"The level of trust is still significant. [The] majority trust the results of the elections that they are accurate and thereby credible," he added.