Leni Robredo’s win comes on Jesse’s birthday
NAGA CITY, Philippines—When incoming Vice President Leni Robredo dropped by the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia to offer a prayer of thanks, the church bells pealed to acknowledge the grace of having a Bicol native elected to the country’s second highest post for the first time.
It was a long and rough journey, but Jesse was with her all the way, Robredo said, referring to her late husband, former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Robredo described her victory as “providential,” as the official tally of the national board of canvassers (NBOC), which was widely expected to wrap up next week or early June, unexpectedly came on the 58th birthday of her husband.
“The timing was meaningful,” the incoming Vice President told reporters in Naga City. “It’s as if everything happened in perfect timing,” she added.
The NBOC, Robredo noted, concluded the canvassing of votes for President and Vice President just as the Mass for her husband ended. “If this is not providential, what do you call it?” she asked.
In a statement, Robredo’s camp said her victory over Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. became even more symbolic as it was punctuated by the count of votes coming from Northern Samar, the region with the most number of martial law victims.
The certificate of canvass from Northern Samar showed that Robredo got a total of 111,461 votes, against the 73,214 votes obtained by the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
“On a personal level, I say that Jesse was with me throughout [this] journey because I feel he is always with me,” Robredo said.
Her victory also reminded her of Jesse’s principle about one achieving what one wants in life with hard work, sacrifice and determination, instead of expecting it to be served on a silver platter, she added.
“What I have achieved could be an inspiration to ordinary people,” Robredo said. “They can do the same because this is proof that [winning] is not exclusive to the wealthy, people with connections or people with [famous] names.”
Despite the final figures that cemented her victory, Robredo said she was “open to whatever investigation [comes because of] the allegations [of cheating] from (Marcos’ camp], but my appeal is [for them] to stop mudslinging because it affects the system and the supporters who volunteered their time, effort and resources,” she said.
She said she was excited to work with incoming President Rodrigo Duterte even though they differed on many issues.
“It is not necessary that [we share] the same beliefs. The challenges will come on [issues] where we [have opposing views]. I hope [this] will not be a hindrance to our cooperation,” she added.
“The elections have been very divisive and it is now time for unity and I am willing to go an extra mile to cooperate with the [incoming] President so that the country can move on,” she said.
Robredo started with barely 1 percent of voter awareness when she reluctantly agreed late last year to be the running mate of Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas.
But on Saturday night, Robredo found herself getting 35 percent of the votes, when the final count at the Senate canvass showed her getting 14,418,817 votes against the 14,155,344 votes received by her closest rival, Marcos.
Social media, the key battleground in the 2016 elections, again proved to be a lively, if irreverent, curator of popular thought, instantly pulling out the stops to crown—literally—the country’s new Vice President in a meme using an edited photo of current Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.
The hashtags #VPLeni, #TagumpayNiLeni, #LeniIsMyVP, #LeniTheRealVP trended on Twitter along with plain “Leni Robredo” and “Vice President,” with 13,000 tweets sent by 7 p.m., when the congressional tally wrapped up.
More than 30,000 tweets were sent in the last 24 hours, among the most liked was that from Senator-elect Risa Hontiveros: “1% to Vice-president! #VPLeni,” referring to Robredo’s initial rating in a voter popularity survey.
One Twitter user, @mananicas, tweeted an “open letter to Leni Robredo: Pakiangat po ang lovelife kong nasa laylayan thanks po,” which referenced the widow in yellow’s ad campaign that centered on lifting the lives of people on the margins of society (“nasa laylayan ng lipunan”).
“It only showed that there is no legal or factual basis regarding the allegations of election fraud or irregularities,” Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal said, referring to the final tally in a mobile phone interview with the Inquirer.
Naga City Mayor John Bongat said Robredo’s victory was “an achievement as well of good, transparent and responsive governance.” With a report from Shiena Barrameda, Inquirer Southern Luzon/TVJ
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