As this was being written in the morning of Thursday, May 12, three days after the May 9 Philippine presidential election, losing candidate Leni Robredo still has not conceded defeat. Other major candidates like Ping Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, Isko Moreno, and even Leody de Guzman have already done so and congratulated the winner, Bongbong Marcos.
While indeed Leni has issued a statement saying the people have spoken and their decision must be respected, she has hedged from outright concession, saying she needs to await resolution of certain issues. She even dropped hints of taking some form of legal action and is consulting her lawyers. Is she filing a protest? Is she claiming fraud?
As she quibbles with indecision and inaction, the rest of the world quickly grasped what just happened and swiftly decided to move on. The United States congratulated Marcos and said it was ready to work with his government. US State Department spokesman Ned Price, immediately the day after the election, described its conduct as being in accordance with international standards.
The European Union likewise expressed its collective willingness to work with and engage the incoming government, congratulating Marcos for his victory. China not only recognized the results and expressed willingness to also work with Marcos, it also vowed to support and continue its neighborly policy toward the Philippines. Australia and other countries have issued similar gestures.
The swiftness and eagerness of international congratulations and pledges of support and cooperation would not have happened if not for the two main things that leapt out of the May 9 election: Its credibility and the unassailability of the mandate. Glitches and violent incidents were too few and isolated to cast doubt on the integrity of the results. And the mandate was so overwhelming no cheating was possible on such a scale.
As it is, the count is already nearly 99% complete, with Marcos leading with more than 31 million votes as against the 14 million votes of Leni. For cheating to happen, one has to hijack something like the 16-million difference between Marcos and Leni to make Marcos win. I cannot for the life of me imagine that happening. It is like erasing the whole of Asia from the map and nobody noticing.
Some even inanely point to the similarity in the numbers of Bongbong and his running mate Sara Duterte (both have logged more than 31 million votes each) as proof of cheating. These people conveniently ignore the fact that Bongbong and Sara consistently pitched for each other as a team. Leni's campaign, on the other hand, was rocked by desperate and disjointed pitches for a Ro-Sa or RoSo. Poor Kiko, gi-kiko. The May 2022 election was the voting equivalent of EDSA February 1986. Both effected an unassailable, swift, sweeping, non-violent and hugely popular transfer of power. EDSA 1986 did it in the streets. May 2022 did it in the polls. And as ironic as it is historic, both involved the transitioning of a Marcos from one phase of life to another. From up to down to up again, which is maybe how life always is.
And yet, in face of all this, there is no Leni to do and say what must be said and done. As a responsible official of the land (she is still the vice president until noon of June 30) her gesture of concession is crucial toward the healing this country badly needs after such a painfully divisive campaign. A refusal to concede will only isolate her. She risks becoming irrelevant.
‘Her gesture of concession is crucial toward the healing this country badly needs after such a painfully divisive campaign.’