A full week after the elections, the Cebu Archdiocese’s call for the losing candidates to move on and join the rest of the Filipinos in uniting behind the incoming administration and the local leaders that were elected is not just timely but also necessary.
Msgr. Joseph Tan, Cebu Archdiocese spokesman, echoed the sentiments of a good number of Filipinos when he said there was no evidence to suggest that the vote-counting machines (VCMs) had been tampered with even with Smartmatic’s admission that it fiddled with the hash code to allow some letters to be interpreted by the system.
The VCMs are the target of complaints of candidates like Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who gave his own numbers and figures based on his surveys that showed him winning 10 to 12 percent of the votes ahead of eventual winner and come-backing Mayor-elect Tomas Osmeña.
Right now, Rama’s mind is preoccupied with the single purpose of disproving his erstwhile mentor’s claim to victory. His legal remedy is the manual audit count which will randomly select ballots from certain barangays to determine if the tabulation of votes is erroneous and that he, not Osmeña, is the true winner of last Monday’s elections.
But will the recount be enough to overhaul a 30,000-plus margin of victory? According to some political commentators, the manual audit recount, like the one conducted in Compostela last year may only result in narrowing down the margin of victory for Osmeña to as low as 5,000 to 6,000 votes, give or take the margin of error that may have been arrived at by the VCMs.
That small margin is still enough to validate Osmeña’s claim to victory similar to the small 5,000 to 6,000 margin of victory Rama claimed over Osmeña in the 2013 elections which the outgoing mayor said was substantial enough to ensure his mandate then.
It’s unlike the too-close-to-call election race between retired police official Vicente Loot and Mayor Augusto Corro in which Loot won by a tiny margin of only seven votes. Loot had extended his hand of reconciliation to Corro, which the outgoing mayor rejected since he accused Loot of harassing and intimidating his followers.
That election can still be rightfully contested but to Corro’s credit, his followers have yet to resort to sit-down protests that can bar Loot’s assumption of the post—though it remains to be seen how Loot will handle this once he takes over the mayoral seat.
The hard reality is whether Rama or Loot accept defeat or not doesn’t matter to the rest of the voting populace who have made their choices and are now getting ready to adjust to their old or new leaders and continue living as they have always done since democracy was restored decades ago.
It will take time and losing candidates will pursue their cases in court but eventually like the rest of us they will have to move on and perhaps take another shot at running for public office.