Binay has slimmest lead in post-1986 VP polls
Liberal Party vice presidential candidate Manuel Roxas gestures during a press conference in Quezon City, east of Manila on May 13, 2010. AFP PHOTO/NOEL CELIS
MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE) Despite being a mere second placer in the official tally, Liberal Party vice-presidential candidate Senator Manuel Araneta Roxas II is not about to concede the vice presidency to topnotcher, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay.
In a statement released moments before the Joint Congressional Canvassing Committee terminated its proceedings with the canvass of the last Certficate of Canvass (COC) from Lanao del Sur, Roxas revealed instructing his lawyers to gather evidence and study the possible filing of an electoral protest before the Presidential Electoral tribunal.
“Utang ng loob ko po sa inyo na ipaglaban ang isang matapat at kumpletong bilangan, kasama na ang pag-usisa sa napakalaking bilang ng null votes sa eleksyon sa pagka-Bise Presidente. I have instructed my lawyers to gather records and evidence, and to study and prepare towards the possibility of filing an electoral protest. We have 30 days to do this," he said.
"I owe it to our people to ensure that the electoral process will truly be an instrument of their will. Nananatili pong bukas ang pinto sa anumang pagkilos na hihilingin sa akin ng humigit-kumulang sa labing-apat na milyong Pilipinong sumuporta sa ating kilusan para sa makabuluhang pagbabago,“ he added.
In the same statement, Roxas thanked voters even as he rallied support for his victorious running mate, Senator Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
Unlike Binay, who led Roxas by just over 727,000 votes, Aquino led the presidential tally by over 5 million votes.
Binay’s lead at 727,082 votes is the slimmest lead in the vice-presidency in the post-martial law era.
The heartbreak kid
Roxas is considered by many as the heartbreak kid of this election season.
His decision to run with Aquino came after he sacrificed his own presidential campaign after Aquino’s mother, well-loved democracy icon former President Corazon Aquino died in August 2009 and thrust her only son into the spotlight.
In the 2009 presidential preference surveys, Roxas was just lagging behind then survey front runner, Senator Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party.
When he slid down to the vice-presidential race, Roxas enjoyed a healthy double-digit lead over early rival Loren Legarda, Who was overtaken in a come-frome-behind surge by Binay weeks before the elections.
Roxas spent a lot of time helping running mate Aquino pull away when Aquino's closest rival, Villar, was closing in in February 2010.
Binay’s surge had been attributed by analysts to Roxas' complacency against Binay, as his guns were trained on Legarda.
Analysts also felt that the lack of media scrutiny of Binay, who is a long-term mayor of the country’s economic center, worked in his favor, along with last-minute endorsements from popular Senator Francis Escudero.
Like Roxas, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo initially planned to run for president in 1992 and 1998. They agreed to be runningmates to Danding Cojuangco and Jose de Venecia Jr. But unlike Roxas, Estrada and Arroyo won in their vice presidential bids.
Roxas' current term as senator ends on June 30, 2010, having been elected with President Arroyo's K-4 coalition in 2004. This means he will be out of a job by June 30, and will have to wait till May next year when the 1-year ban
against appointing losing candidates to government posts lapses.
Roxas' dad, the late Senator Gerry Roxas, himself lost his own 1965 vice presidential bid against Nacionalista Party's Fernando Lopez, the running mate of Ferdinand Marcos.
1965 Vice Presidential Race
|Gerardo M. Roxas
Uphill electoral protest
But Roxas’ impending electoral protest faces an uphill batlle.
Nowhere in recent history has the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) reversed a proclamation and unseated an incumbent.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s protest against Fidel Ramos over the 1992 elections was considered abandoned by the PET after she ran and won for the Senate in 1995.
The same scenario applied when Legarda’s protest against de Castro was lost when she ran for the Senate in 2007.
Fernando Poe Jr. died in 2004 before the PET could even rule on his protest against President Arroyo
Veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal noted the process is expensive, tedious and time consuming. He explained:
"Rule 32 of the PET Rules provides for P50,000.00 filing fee for a protest plus P500.00 per precinct. Medyo merong question about 'precinct' whether it is per 'clustered precinct' or the number of precincts involved in the 'clustered precinct', the latter being the basis of computation by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Comelec. Then we have payment of revisors at the rate of P1,000.00 per day per revisor. In the de Castro vs Loren case, 30 revision teams were created so P30,000.00 a day ang expense, which may last for about one year. In this 2010 polls, we have 78,000 clustered precincts from a total of about 250,000 single precincts. From there you may compute further.”
Machines to do recount?
Roxas’ lawyers are confident the shift to the automated election system will make sure his case against Binay isn’t lost.
His lawyer Joey Tenefrancia said that unlike previous protests when recounts of votes were appreciated on a manual basis.
Now, it would be faster because machines will be doing the recount.
They are pinning their hopes on the counting of some 2.6 million votes considered null--because they were either improperly shaded votes, over-votes, or under-votes.
The Binay camp is unperturbed.
Binay’s daughter, Makati 2nd district Representative Mar-Len Abbygail Binay told reporters the protest could be bloody.
Rep. Binay, meanwhile, seemed unperturbed by the protest.
She said her father is now looking forward to working in any capacity under the Aquino administration, reminding Aquino of his openness to accepting the interior and local government portfolio.
Binay is no stranger to the Aquino camp, being a close ally and family friend of the late President Cory Aquino.