By Basilio Sepe
The Philippine Congress on Wednesday officially declared Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio winners of the May 9 presidential and vice-presidential polls, saying the running mates each garnered about 60 percent of ballots cast in landslide victories.
The declaration was a crowning moment for Marcos, the son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator, as he sealed his quest to follow in his footsteps as president, despite the long and dark shadow of his father’s brutal rule. It also guaranteed that a Duterte would have a top position in the incoming administration as President Rodrigo Duterte exits office at the end of June.
“I am humbled because for anyone in public service or in a public life, the most valuable thing we may receive from a fellow citizen is their vote. Because embedded in that vote are their hopes, their aspirations for the future,” Marcos said. “But also embedded in that vote are the trust and the confidence that they give to you to take them to that aspirational future.”
This year’s proclamation of electoral results – the fastest in the country’s history – came after the House of Representatives and Senate convened as a canvassing body a day earlier. Congress noted that lawyers for top opposition candidate Leni Robredo, who received less than half of the votes for Marcos, did not pose any objection.
“We did not sacrifice transparency and authenticity of the results for a speedy count,” said Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who chaired the process, adding that Marcos garnered close to 59 percent of the total presidential votes cast, while Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of the incumbent president, took in 61.5 percent of votes for VP.
Senate President Vicente Sotto, who finished second in the vice presidential race to Duterte-Carpio, concurred that Marcos was the “duly elected president of the Philippines.”
Marcos thanked the Commission on Elections for overseeing a smooth election and said that “in my experience, the best-run election that we have seen that has reflected truly the voice of the people and the choice of the people.
“I am inspired by this responsibility that has been given me, so I ask you all, pray for me, wish me well, I want to do well, because when a president does well, the country does well. And I want to do well for this country.”
Meanwhile, protesters staged an anti-Marcos rally outside the headquarters of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, with police seen using water cannon to control the crowd.
Marcos’s inauguration is set for June 30, under the Philippine Constitution, and his first work day will be July 1.
Congress noted that Marcos and Duterte-Carpio won by landslides, receiving 31.6 million and 32.2 million votes respectively. By contrast, Robredo received a little over 15 million votes and her vice presidential running mate, Francis Pangilinan, received 9.3 million.
The joint canvassing committee tabulated votes from 81 provinces and independent cities, along with absentee local and overseas Filipinos’ votes, according to House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, a cousin of Marcos.
“Their overwhelming mandate reflects the people’s desire for unity toward progress and development,” Romualdez said.
He thanked Robredo and the other eight candidates for accepting their defeat graciously.
“Their manifestations to no longer challenge the COCs (certificates of canvass) and to recognize the integrity and authenticity of the election results smoothened and expedited our canvass and allowed the canvassing committee to carry out its mandate from the joint session in so short a time,” he said.
Among those attending the announcement on Wednesday were Marcos’s family, including his mother, Imelda. The aging matriarch of the political clan remains a polarizing figure in the Philippines, 36 years after a peaceful people-power revolt removed her dictator husband, Ferdinand E. Marcos, from office.
Marcos Jr.’s sister, Imee Marcos, a senator, said the family was grateful to the Philippine people for giving them a chance to revive the Marcos name.
Imee Marcos said the family had been unduly judged through the years after her father went into exile in Hawaii in 1986, where he died three years later. The elder Marcos had ruled the nation for more than two decades and had declared martial law in 1972.
Following his death, Imelda Marcos and their three children were allowed to return home and were never barred from running for public office.
In 2016, the family supported Rodrigo Duterte’s successful presidential campaign, the same year Marcos lost the vice presidential race to Robredo. One of Duterte’s first official acts as president was to transfer the remains of the Marcos patriarch to the National Heroes’ Cemetery in Manila.
“Yes we’re very, very grateful for a second chance as it were, because we have gone through so much. They have filed many cases against us, on top of their criticism and oppression. Our family really suffered for the past almost four decades,” Imee Marcos told reporters.
“So I thank everyone who trusted us, to our loyalists, the Ilocanos and to those who believed that the country really needs strong leadership,” she said, referring to the people of the Ilocos region, the family’s northern bailiwick.
Dennis Jay Santos in Davao city, Philippines, contributed to this report.