By Ellson Quismorio
A House leader has joined the chorus of those asking the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to dismiss with finality the electoral protest of losing vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo.
“We call on the PET to dismiss such a baseless protest,” Deputy Speaker and Basilan lone district Rep. Mujiv Hataman said Wednesday.
“Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., son of the late former strongman president Ferdinand Marcos, has identified three provinces where he claims poll fraud was committed during the 2016 national elections. He questions the validity of our votes in Basilan, where I currently serve as congressional representative, along with the votes of those in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur,” Hataman, a former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor, stated.
“The people in the now-defunct ARMM voted according to their conscience and decisively elected Vice President Leni Robredo. She deserves to serve the people who gave her the mandate to the second highest post in the land,” he underscored.
The Basilan solon cited the overwhelming victory of President Rodrigo Duterte in ARMM in 2016, which also redounded to the benefit of some of his allied senatorial candidates.
“Vice President Robredo won the hearts of the people of ARMM, and won the region’s vote alongside President Duterte. Dapat alisin na natin yung notion na laging may dayaan sa ARMM. Pag natatalo isang kandidato, dinaya. Pag nanalo, wala namang reklamo,” Hataman said.
(We should drop the notion that ARMM polls are always undermined by cheating. If a candidate loses, there is cheating. If a candidate wins, there are no complaints.)
According to Hataman, Robredo won the vice presidential race because she took the time to go to almost every province in Mindanao.
“She went to these areas not just to campaign, but to have genuine conversations with the Bangsamoro people and to seek their advice on how to improve the quality of life in the region,” he further said.
Also, Hataman, a former human rights activist, explained that the people in ARMM also voted against Marcos because of the atrocities they experienced during the time of Martial Law under the administration of his father, the late former president.
“This may be the reason Bongbong Marcos did not even campaign personally in some parts of Mindanao and ARMM, for this would require acknowledging their family’s crimes, especially those against the Bangsamoro people. All this is reflected in the votes we cast, and the choice we made in Vice President Leni Robredo,” he explained.
The legislator added that as a former senator, Bongbong Marcos did not act on the measure that is now known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
“As a former chair of the Senate committee on local government, he sat on the Bangsamoro proposal until his term ended. It is but natural for the people of ARMM to remember this significant detail and express their disappointment through their vote, which Marcos now wants nullified. Fortunately, ARMM is now BARMM (Bangsamoro of ARMM),” Hataman said.
“It should not be a surprise, therefore, that the people of ARMM voted for Vice President Robredo. The Bangsamoro people remembers, and Marcos seeks to annul our collective memory along with the votes he now seeks to nullify,” he added.