Philippines' presidential runner-up Robredo vows to fight on with 'largest volunteer network'

Philippine Vice-President Leni Robredo greeting supporters during a thanksgiving rally in Manila on May 13, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA - Vice-President Leni Robredo on Friday (May 13) admitted the results of the May 9 presidential election "were not in our favour", without officially admitting defeat by Mr Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the late dictator.

Speaking to tens of thousands of supporters at a thanksgiving mass at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University, Ms Robredo said she would launch the country's "largest volunteer network" on July 1, Mr Marcos Jr's first day in office.

The volunteer movement would ferret out the truth, she said, as she blamed her likely loss to a machinery that "stole the truth", as well as history.

"We still have a lot left in the tank. I will devote all my energy to fighting lies. We have to be a united movement for the truth," she said.

There was no concession speech, but she admitted that "according to the picture that's emerging, we have to accept that the results are not in our favour".

"We have to accept the will of the majority. You have to be with me on this," she said.

Unofficial results show Mr Marcos Jr getting close to 32 million votes, double Ms Robredo's tally.

More than 98 per cent of about 55.4 million ballots have been counted. 

The stunning result has not dampened her supporters' enthusiasm.

Wearing black and pink, they trooped to Ateneo for an assembly meant to rally hope.

By 5pm, a sprawling field was packed even as more people, many of them students, arrived in droves.

Some sat on the pavement or beside the college buildings in Ateneo, a sprawling university run by the Jesuits.

Supporters at Philippine Vice-President Leni Robredo's thanksgiving rally on May 13, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

Ms Angel Eclevia, 22, a University of the Philippines philosophy student, said this was her first rally.

"This is my way of giving thanks to all the kakampinks who went from house to house, for the efforts of V-P Leni and her team. I'm here to give thanks and to show that I'm also a kakampink although I wasn't able to vote," she said, using a term Ms Robredo's supporters use to describe themselves.

The word is a play on "kakampi", the Filipino word for "ally", and pink, the theme colour for Ms Robredo's presidential campaign.

Ms Eclevia has a disability that she said made it difficult for her to register as a voter during the pandemic.

She said she could not accept the results of the election in the beginning, but conceded: "But maybe that's what the people really want."

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Ms Renzi Silva, 32, was at the thanksgiving mass to show her support for Ms Robredo.

She, too, expressed disbelief that her candidate did not win, but added: "We continue to fight because we believe in her."

It would hurt to hear Ms Robredo concede the elections to Mr Marcos Jr, but Ms Silva said the fight for good government does not end with the elections.

"I'll support if there will be a pink movement, to support the workers. I can do volunteer work, I can share whatever I can," she said, then quoted Ms Robredo: "Those who have been made aware, will never again have their eyes closed."

Many of Ms Robredo's supporters had expressed dismay at Mr Marcos Jr's landslide victory, and rumours circulated about cheating done through the automated vote counting machines.

The Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism reported that as at election day, about 1,800 machines, or 1.8 per cent out of 107,345, encountered issues during the first four hours of voting.

Another 160 machines were found defective.

Election watchdog Kontra Daya (Counter Cheating) said the number of reported faulty vote counting machines translated to about 1.1 million potentially affected voters, or about 2 per cent of the voting population.

However, the number of faulty machines was far less than the 3,414 in the 2019 mid-elections, or 4 per cent of the 85,769 units deployed.

A resident placing her ballot through the vote counting machine for the Philippine presidential election, in Quezon City on May 9, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

Ms Robredo said the reported irregularities should be investigated, but also said that the voice of the people must be heard.

She added: "A path has been opened, and it will not close with the (electoral) precincts. A movement has been born, and it will not die with the counting."

Presumptive Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, has called on her supporters to be magnanimous in victory.

"Let us be the ones to humble ourselves because we are the ones who won. We have to be magnanimous because we are only 31.5 million, we need (those who supported other candidates) so that we can be 100 per cent of a country," she said in a thank-you speech over Zoom on Friday, speaking in a mix of Filipino and English.

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