The Presidential Electoral Tribunal on April 2 started the recount of ballots in connection with the electoral protest filed by defeated vice presidential candidate and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Vice President Leni Robredo beat Marcos by just 263,473 votes.
The PET Revisor’s Guide says the revision will verify the physical count of the ballots, recount the votes of the parties, record objections or claims with respect to the ballots under revision, and mark the ballots objected to or claimed by the parties for examination by the PET.
Revisors will review 5,418 ballot boxes from every clustered polling precinct in the three pilot provinces – Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental – that Marcos has chosen for the initial ballot recount.
Robredo is relieved the manual count has begun. The Marcos camp has been making premature and unfounded pronouncements as early as 2016 that Marcos will unseat Robredo. One such message in October 2016: “Recount of ballots from four to five provinces will start end of November and will finish by December, deliberations after. You can bet early next year, we have a new VP.”
More than that, in several public occasions where Marcos was a guest, the host would introduce him as vice president. The latest was at Baguio City’s Panagbenga Festival on March 5. Marcos attended the event with his sister, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos. Imee introduced him on stage as the vice president, causing Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan to apologize and clarify that he had nothing to do with this blatant discourtesy to the city. Domogan deemed the act a “disgrace.” Politicking is strictly prohibited during the popular annual festival.
Why the premature announcement? What is the Marcos camp afraid of? Is it trying to condition people’s minds?
Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno is another person feeling relieved these days. She is hopeful she will have her day in court despite the moves of various sectors to unseat her by forcing her resignation.
The House has finished its committee hearings and is ready to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate when Congress resumes its session in May. But the anti-Sereno camp, however, has been using underhanded methods to convince people she does not deserve to be Chief Justice even before the impeachment trial starts. These have raised concerns the trial will not prosper in the Senate.
For starters, Solicitor General Jose Calida has filed a quo warranto case which even his own colleagues consider as unconstitutional. This was followed by desperate moves to make it appear that other judges and employees are also against Sereno.
The show of red at the SC on March 5 – wearing red tie, red shirt, red dress at the flag raising ceremony – was nothing else but that, a show. The anti-Sereno camp told media the high tribunal will be a sea of red to show that they want Sereno to resign.
Instead, probably to their chagrin, the majority of judges and employees chose to stay neutral and believed that they do the institution a disservice if they join the noise of those asking her to resign.
It appears support for Sereno’s ouster is weak. Only 20 of the 1,200 members of the Philippine Judges Association signed a PJA manifesto calling for her to step down.
Meanwhile, of the more than 15 different court employees’ associations, only four issued calls to oust the Chief Justice. The remaining 11 refused to sign the anti-Sereno statement.
Some news reports quoted court employees in Cebu, who said a text message was circulated to them instructing them to wear red at the March 5 flag-raising ceremony “as a sign of unity in the Supreme Court.” They would later learn that the “Red Monday” was “actually aimed at expressing support for the ouster” of Sereno. The employees felt deceived. Instead of obeying the urgings of the “reds,” the court employees decided to report for work in their uniform.
“We’re public servants, not puppets,” said a private message sent through social media to members of the Philippine Association of Court Employees, reported the Inquirer.
Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide urged justices and employees to “respect the rule of law and preserve their judicial independence.” He said the moves against Sereno constitute “condemning without evidence, judging before hearing, applying additional political pressure on the Chief Magistrate, rather than according her the rights to a fair trial, to substantive and procedural due process, and even to the rule of law.”
Sereno’s supporters are confident the Senate impeachment court will not be a mere puppet and hope that its proceedings will not be a circus, resembling the committee hearings at the House.
Death by Dengvaxia
The Dengvaxia scare is truly a public concern. It was admittedly a serious mistake of the Aquino administration in fast-tracking the vaccine’s purchase and administration. It was also a mistake of the Duterte administration to continue the vaccination program. Consequences were aggravated because of the big trial population and the failure to determine if the patient contracted dengue before. Apparently, they did not take the warning seriously that it could have deadly consequences if administered to blood-type 0 negative patients.
Amid the horrors arising from Dengvaxia deaths, another even more serious problem has come about. Many parents now refuse to have their children vaccinated, even with basic and necessary tried-and-tested vaccines for measles, polio, mumps, whooping cough and tuberculosis.
The Public Attorney’s Office recently fueled anxieties when forensic chief Erwin Erfe peddled fake news on social media about a policeman’s death allegedly due to Dengvaxia’s side effects.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa disputed on March 22 the PAO report. He said the unnamed Quezon City policeman, 50, died of leptospirosis and did not even get the Dengvaxia vaccine.
Continuing to misinform and scare the public like that is irresponsible.