Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Rodrigo Duterte, the tough-talking Davao City mayor, won the May 9 presidential election by a landslide against four other prominent officials according to the official congressional canvass of votes late Friday.
A spokesperson for Duterte called his "historic" victory “the triumph of the people, by the people and for the people.”
Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, widow of Interior secretary Jesse Robredo and first-term congresswoman, won the tight vice presidential race. The administration bet received news of her victory as she and her three daughters, relatives and supporters visited her husband's grave in Naga City to celebrate his birthday.
Duterte, who promised “genuine change” and campaigned on a hardline anti-crime platform, garnered 16,601,997 votes, over 6.6 million more than his closest rival, administration candidate Mar Roxas, according to the official tally by a joint congressional canvassing committee. Roxas was President Benigno Aquino III's choice as his successor to continue his "daang matuwid [straight path]" governance.
With 14,418,817 votes, Robredo won the neck-and-neck race against Sen. Bongbong Marcos by only 263,473 votes after the three-day canvass. Four other senators lost the race.
“Finally, victory has been achieved,” Peter Lavina, Duterte campaign spokesperson, said in a statement. “His victory is the triumph of the people, by the people and for the people. Let us celebrate this milestone of Philippine democracy by uniting and working for genuine change.”
Robredo said she was doubly happy over her victory because it came on the day she and her family celebrated her husband’s 58th birthday. Earlier in the day, she led the unveiling of a bust of her husband at the Cararayan National High School, which the late Robredo built when he was Naga mayor in 1989.
“Wala yatang nabigay sa akin na hindi ko pinaghirapan, at ito ang isa mga bagay na parang ang tindi ng hirap na pinagdaanan, at alam kong hindi pa tapos. Pero the mere fact na official na siya kasi tapos na yong kongreso, malaking hakbang na ito,” she told CNN Philippines.
[Translation: "There doesn’t seem to have been anything that was given to me that I didn't work hard for, and this is one of the tremendously difficult things that I have had to go through, and I know that this isn’t over. But the mere fact that it is now official — because Congress is done with it — it is a major step."]
She said one of the first things she will do is to pay a courtesy call on Duterte. She will also use the remaining days before their inauguration as the country’s two highest officials to prepare to “transition” to her new job “para sa June 30 sabak na agad sa trabaho [so that on June 30, I could immediately plunge into work].”
She said with her expertise in fighting poverty, she is eyeing appointment as head of the social welfare department, but she will respect the incoming president's choice. Duterte has said he will appoint a nominee of the Communist Party of the Philippines to the post.
Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives met in a joint session on Tuesday as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC). They formed the joint committee composed of representatives of both chambers to canvass the election results. Canvassing began the following day.
The official results confirmed the partial, unofficial count made by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) showing Duterte winning the presidential elections by a wide margin. The count showed the neophyte legislator narrowly ahead of the son and namesake of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos in the vice presidential race.
Duterte’s three other rivals — Roxas, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Grace Poe — conceded the election shortly after the PPCRV count showed him leading the polls. Only Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago has not conceded. A sixth candidate, former Ambassador Roy Seneres, died before the election campaign period began.
Marcos and his lawyers had questioned the PPCRV results of the vice presidential race, expressing suspicion that a script, or computer command, introduced into the Commission on Elections (Comelec) transparency server could have manipulated the PPCRV count.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista dismissed such claims, saying the script merely made “cosmetic changes” in the names of some candidates but did not alter the results.
George Garcia, a lawyer for Marcos, said the senator is “seriously considering” his options.
“At isa sa mga kinoconsider nya is pagfile ng electoral protest. Bibilangin naming ang balota kung saka-sakali para malaman natin ano ba talaga ang nangyari sa botong yan, talaga bang maraming zero at talaga bang dapat makakuha sya ng zero sa mga lugar kung saan zero ang nakuha niyang boto?” he said.
[Translation: "And one of things he is considering is filing an electoral protest. We will count the ballots, if possible, for us to truly determine what happened to those votes. Were there really so many zero votes and did he really get zero in those places where his votes were reported to have been zero?"]
Garcia, however, said the electoral protest could cost Marcos P30 million-P50 million because of the large amount of work needed, including examination of ballots from numerous areas around the country.