Robredo’s SC win validates 2016 elections ‘best in Philippine history’, ex-Comelec chair says

February 17, 2021 - 6:17 PM
This May 2016 file photo shows the Comelec, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, proclaiming the 2016 elections winners. ( Bolando, File)

The former chairman of the Commission of Elections has claimed that the national elections in 2016 were the “best” in Philippine history despite glitches encountered in the system back then.

This came following Supreme Court‘s unanimous decision to junk the poll protest of former senator Bongbong Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo after nearly five years since the former filed his case in June 2016.

This, therefore upheld the results of the 2016 national elections.

Former Comelec chair Andy Bautista, who led the poll body during that time, felt that he was also redeemed because of it.

“SC unanimous decision validates observation of international and local independent watchdogs that 2016 elections were the best in Philippine history! Thank you Comelec family!” Bautista tweeted Tuesday with a heart emoji.

In 2017, Bautista, an appointee of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was mired with various corruption allegations and other controversies related to his estranged wife Patricia Bautista and the rest of his family.

He subsequently tendered his resignation from his post and then reportedly fled to the United States amid the ongoing probe of his alleged ill-gotten wealth.

The current Comelec chairperson is Sheriff M. Abas.

Praised amid glitches during 2016 automated polls

Independent local and foreign observers gave a positive assessment of the third automated elections conducted in May of that year.

The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), one of the largest local watchdogs, noted the high voter confidence and turnout rate at 81% for local voters and 31% for overseas voters.

“Namfrel believes that on the whole, this election has been managed far better than the past two automated elections held in 2010 and 2013.  Further, the electorate seems to have more confidence in the election system this year compared to the past,” Namfrel said previously.

However, another election watchdog Automated Election System (AES) Watch cited the lack of transparency in the system.

“Transparency is the most crucial element of elections. That is not present in our elections,” said AES watch analyst Dr. Rene Azurin.

The group also questioned the malfunctioning vote-counting machines.

“Why are the VCM machines breaking down when they are supposed to be brand new,” said WE Watch representative Anna Leah Escresa.

Namfrel also noted other election-related gaps such as the instances of wrong deliveries of election paraphernalia to some precincts and failure to go after violators of election rules such as the still prevalent vote buying in some areas.

Unanimous vote in favor of Robredo

SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka in a Tuesday briefing announced members of the high court sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal dismissed the electoral case of Marcos and Robredo altogether.

“Out of the 15 members of the tribunal [who] were present in today’s meeting, I was informed that seven members fully concurred in dismissal while eight concurred in the result,” Hosaka said.

The SC shared portion of the ruling, saying:

“Wherefore, the Presidential Electoral Tribunal dismisses the Election Protest filed by protestant Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. for lack of merit.”

In 2017, Marcos also lost in the recount of election votes in Camarines Sur, Robredo’s hometown; Negros Oriental, where the vice president achieved a landslide victory and in Iloilo.

Some Filipinos pointed out that these results showed that the former senator lost three times in his bid for vice presidency.