Robredo vows to fight on with 'largest volunteer network'

Philippine V-P says results of presidential polls not 'in our favour' as supporters affirm faith

Vice-President Leni Robredo yesterday said the results of the May 9 Philippine 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 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 on history and a machinery that "stole the truth". "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."

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 added.

Unofficial results show Mr Marcos Jr getting close to 32 million votes, double Ms Robredo's. More than 98 per cent of about 55.4 million ballots have been counted.

But the setback has not dampened her supporters' enthusiasm. Wearing black and pink, the crowd filled the university's sprawling field, spilling over to pavements and along college buildings.

Ms Renzi Silva, 32, expressed disbelief that Ms Robredo did not win, but said "we continue to fight because we believe in her" and 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, and quoted Ms Robredo's words: "Those who have been made aware, will never again have their eyes closed."

Many of Ms Robredo's supporters 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.

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."

Meanwhile, in a thank-you speech made over Zoom yesterday, presumptive vice-president Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, said: "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."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2022, with the headline Robredo vows to fight on with 'largest volunteer network'. Subscribe