MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Liberal Party (LP) vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo on Wednesday, May 11, urged chief rival Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr to stop trying to "condition" the minds of the electorate in a tight vice presidential race that's likely going to end in a hairline victory.
"Lahat ng mga paratang na kanilang binabanggit sa media ay [puwedeng] maidaan sa pormal na pamamaraan. Ipasa natin sa Comelec nang mahusay. Huwag natin gawan ng paraan na maimpluwensiyahan ang isipan ng publiko sa kung ano man ang sinasabi nila na nangyayari, ginagawa, nagagawa sa eleksyong ito," Robredo's spokesperson, Georgina Hernandez, told media in a press briefing.
(All the accusations they're throwing our way can be solved through formal means. Let's submit these to the Commission on Elections properly. Let's not find ways to condition the minds of the public over what they allege happened and is happening in this election.)
Marcos had earlier accused Robredo of cheating in the vice presidential race, which he initially led based on the real-time partial and unofficial count. The partial, unofficial count represents transmissions coming straight from the precinct level. (READ: Can the OAV vote decide the vice-presidential race?)
Marcos' lead was slowly chipped away, however, and Robredo eventually overtook him in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, May 10. Observers and experts have explained this was because votes from Robredo's bailiwicks – the Bicol Region, parts of the Visayas, and parts of Mindanao – came in much later.
In contrast, Marcos bailiwicks were able to transmit much earlier.
The Marcos camp has since claimed a "new script" was inserted past 7 pm on Monday, May 9, or after polls had closed. While the senator's camp could not say how the alleged "new script" could affect the counting of votes, it raised alarm in a press conference held on Wednesday.
Hernandez said their camp is unsure if the supposed "new script" is true or not. They are also unaware of the basis for Marcos' allegations.
Bu the newly-minted spokesperson rebuffed any possibility of cheating using the "new script" all the same.
"Nais po namin bigyang linaw na umaakyat pa po ang boto ni Senator Marcos pagkatapos ng 7:30 pm. In fact, pinakamataas na botong natanggap ni Senator Marcos, 8:30, 8:35 pm…nag peak 'yung lamang ni Senator Marcos at over 900,000 after noong sinasabing new script na pinasok," she said.
(We want to clarify that there was still a surge in Senator Marcos' votes past 7:30 pm. In fact, the highest numbers of votes Senator Marcos received were reflected in the tally at around 8:30, 8:35 pm. This was the peak of Senator Marcos' lead at over 900,000 – around the same time the supposed new script was inserted.)
Robredo began leading at around 3 am on Tuesday.
Even Marcos' standard-bearer, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, has joined the fray and accused Robredo of cheating.
"Iginagalang po natin ang pahayag ni Senator Miriam ngunit kung titignan po nung Abril pa lang po, ay unti-unti nang tumataas ang rating ni Cong Leni sa iba't ibang mga survey. Ang pagtaas na ito ay bunga ng hirap at pawis ng mga taga suporta at volunteers ni Cong Leni kaya para sabihin na ito'y minanipula lang ay malaking insulto sa kanilang pagsisikap," said Hernandez, referring to Santiago's statement.
(We respect Senator Miriam's statements, but as early as April, Congresswoman Leni's ratings in different surveys began rising slowly. And this rise is thanks to the hard work of her supporters and volunteers, so to say that the results were manipulated is a huge insult to the effort they've put into this campaign.)
Santiago is 5th and last in the presidential race but has yet to formally concede. LP standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II is a distant second to presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte but has already conceded.