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Leni: Yellows’ last hope?

“Liberals don’t seem to have a strong presidential bet in Leni as their standard bearer, which translates to the Liberals being powerless for six more years.

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

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The yellows must be so desperate for a return to power — so much that they pray the electoral protest lodged by Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo would be dismissed by the Supreme Court (SC) acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET). This is to pave the way for the affirmation of Robredo’s electoral victory that is still under question.

The PET’s ponente, SC Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa, the yellow president’s appointee to the High Court, in an early opinion after the first recount, sought the early dismissal of the protest case, which move would have favored Robredo. However, the other justices decided to deliberate on it instead and deliberations have been scheduled for today.

It is always possible, however, given the PET’s record of merely waiting for the presidential or vice-presidential term to end and the usual expected SC ruling would be a matter of the protest having become moot, Robredo would be the vice president until such time election comes around.

Leni would have to step down or, if she eyes the presidency, she can always run for the top post since President Duterte will no longer be eligible to run for the presidency.

Robredo’s camp has been plugging almost non-stop on the issue of the eventual affirmation of Robredo, whose elective victory is still in question, At the same time, however, as long as Duterte lives on and completes his term, there is no chance for Leni’s takeover of the presidency.

As her counsel, Romulo Macalintal claimed Robredo would remain in her post no matter what the PET’s decision would be since the tribunal may merely rule on whether the poll protest of defeated candidate Bongbong Marcos would continue. However, Leni’s camp is hoping that the SC decision would be to dismiss the Marcos protest case.

If the SC’s decision is to continue with the poll protest, that would mean another round of recounts, which may take a much longer time, if one compares the length of time it took the PET for a recount of the first batch of ballots from the first three pilot provinces.

If the SC decision is for the protest case to go to the next round and later shows a substantial Marcos vote, it is possible that the recount may give Marcos the vote edge. In this case, he will have to be proclaimed the winner of the 2016 vice-presidential race, and it will be all over for Leni Robredo, a decision that will quash all yellow hopes for a return to power.

Marcos suffered a narrow loss to the current Vice President with a deficit of only 263,473 votes, a 0.64 percent difference. He then quickly filed an electoral protest against Robredo.

Depending on the votes of majority of justices on the protest case, the decision could be a dismissal of the protest or a further recount of the electoral results after examining the pilot provinces, which may take even longer than the first recount.

But say, after the recount and still within the time left, Marcos loses the vote, Leni’s electoral victory will be affirmed. It may still be a short-lived victory for her and the yellows, since presidential elections are scheduled for 2022, and it is unlikely that Leni, as the yellow’s last hope for a return to power, can run and win the presidency in 2022.

However, at this time, the Liberals don’t seem to have a strong presidential bet in Leni as their standard bearer, which translates to the Liberals being powerless for six more years.

Chances are high that Marcos may run for the presidency in 2022, win or lose the poll protest, that is, if Sara Duterte decides not to run for the top electoral post. In this case, Marcos may then run for the same vice-presidential post again and could win it if he is paired with a strong and popular presidential candidate, although to date, there has been no vice president who lost his post and takes a second crack at the presidency and finally wins the plum prize, as evidenced by the electoral loss of then LP standard bearer in 2016 — Mar Roxas.

Still, there is always a first time, and time will tell how things — by losing or winning the vote after an electoral protest — go.

Robredo said this protest case is “a test of the entire electoral process and of the justice system.”

Will she still be saying this if Marcos wins his protest, since this could translate to evidence of massive automated cheating that will reflect negatively on her and the Liberals?

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