MANY people are anxious about the health of the President not just because they fear the instability it would bring to the country. They also dread the thought of the President becoming permanently incapacitated as it can only mean the ascendance of Vice President Leni Robredo to the presidency.
At the heart of the doubts over Robredo is not only her capability to be president, or the lack of it. More importantly, it goes deep into her dubious legitimacy. There is a pending electoral protest against her. Convincing evidence are coming out that seem to indicate systematic fraud in the 2016 elections, particularly in the position of vice president — from unauthorized entry into the electoral system, to the unvetted source codes of the vote-counting machines, some of which were shown to have transmitted even before the elections, to the establishment of unauthorized regional election hubs, and the presence of an illegal fourth server.
What makes the case even more convincing is the seeming participation of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the perpetration of acts that tend to cast doubt on the integrity of the 2016 elections. The Comelec’s failure to be transparent in many of its decisions has seriously undermined the credibility of the process. No less than the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, has called out the change made by Comelec on the minimum shading threshold without the proper resolution prior to the elections, and without informing the relevant parties involved.
In addition, there are reported cases of actual manipulation of or tampering with election results, from opened ballot boxes and wet ballots to missing ballot images. There were also cases where the election results of different voting precincts had identical signatures of their boards of election inspectors, or of signatures of actual voters not matching the signatures of the registered voters.
And a forensic analysis of the numbers reveals footprints of possible fraud associated with automated elections, from abnormally high undervotes for the position of vice president in areas that Robredo won, to anomalous straight lines and data trends. It is also patently questionable that the sum of the total
had tallied for the vice president is different from the sum of the total votes tallied from all provincial and city servers.
Thus, there is the pervasive cloud of doubt over the mandate of Robredo.
But what is most damaging to Robredo is to know that even the members of the committee on constitutional amendments and revisions of the House of Representatives, which is technically part of the constitutional body that proclaimed her, had to initially write into their draft constitution a provision that would bar her from succeeding the President
new Constitution. The committee’s chairman, Rep. Vicente Veloso, expressed serious doubts about Robredo’s place in the line of succession when he asked if we are in fact certain that Robredo is the Vice President.
Thus, even if the House appeared to have reversed Veloso’s committee on the issue, and has reinstated Robredo in the line of succession, the damage has already been done. And what ac- was not the proposal of the committee, but the reaction of Robredo and her allies to the proposal. In shooting down the proposal, they argued that such proposal would be illegal, and is patently unconstitutional.
What seemed to have been lost on Robredo, a lawyer herself, and her election lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, is that the Veloso committee was talking about a transitory provision in a
supplant the 1987 Constitution and all its provisions, including that of Robredo being the successor of the President. Thus, it is incorrect to judge the legality of a provision in a new constitution on the basis of a provision in the old one it effectively replaced.
Not contented in appearing ignorant about this fundamental principle in the hierarchy of laws, Robredo went further into the shallow waters of illogical thinking by deriding Veloso’s slim edge over his closest rival, making it appear that her edge over former senator Bongbong Marcos was much higher. In doing so, the argument of this economics graduate from the University of the Philippines that her 263,000vote edge over Marcos is better than the 100-vote edge of Veloso over his opponent betrays her lack of understanding of the basic principle of ratio and proportion. Otherwise, she would not have failed to understand that there is not much difference since both of them ended up having a vote margin of less than 1 percent of the total votes cast in their respective constituencies. Actually, there is a bigger issue against Robredo. It is not only her lack of palpable intellectual savvy, complicated by her being apparently mathematically challenged. And it doesn’t end with her questioned legitimacy in having a very slim margin in a highly contested election where evidence of fraud preponderate.
It is also in her lack of ethical bearing. A prudent person would not have shown the same eagerness as she had in asserting her right to become a successor at a time that the health of the President is rumored to be failing. A more sensitive statesperson would have simply refrained from making a statement, and instead just asked supporters and critics alike to focus on wishing for the good health of the President.
But there she was, at the moment when talk about the President’s health was going around, and worse, peddled by her political allies, she through her spokesperson had the gall to remind the President that it is not his call to determine who his successor should be. There was a readiness to cite constitutional provisions. It is almost like an heir of questionable legitimacy who, at the moment when her father is already dying, seizes the moment to remind her siblings of her right to an inheritance.
This is simply in poor taste. Robredo need not raise the issue of the Constitution because it is a given and its text does not depend on the good or failing health of the President.
In the end, this may be the karma of Robredo. Despite the constitutional guarantee, she remains insecure because she knows deep in her heart that she doesn’t have the legitimacy.
The Veloso committee simply called out the elephant in the room. While she has a legal claim that the Constitution already assures, a great majority of the people do not accept her. And the more she insists, the more she loses that acceptance.