Quezon City, Philippines — Outgoing Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday admitted his defeat in one of the most consequential presidential elections in Philippine history and urged supporters to accept the vote and continue to fight disinformation. .
At a rally at Ateneo de Manila University, which gathered thousands of supporters, Robredo did not mention the obvious winner, son of the late dictator, named after Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Protests erupted against Marcos after Monday night’s preliminary results showed Marcos’ victory by the largest margin in more than 30 years. The election, however, was messed up by dissatisfaction with ticket purchases and broken counting machines.
Robredo stressed that her team is still investigating reports of voting fraud, but “as the picture clears, we need to start accepting that the election results didn’t go as we planned.”
“We have to accept the decision of the majority,” she said. “I beg you to join us in this work.”
Mr. Robredo criticized “a giant machine that spreads hate and lies” without further explanation. “It stole the truth just as it stole our history and our future,” she said.
Disinformation is not unique to the Philippines, but has flourished in recent campaigns. The results of this election show that the Marcos family has been at least partially successful in branding their heritage. It told the Filipinos to “go ahead” from their ugly past, emphasizing that Ferdinand E. Marcos’ violent 20-year reign was characterized by dozens of infrastructure projects and strong economic growth.
“I will put all my energy into fighting lies,” Robredo said. “And I want you to join us in this fight.”
Many young supporters in the crowd wept as they watched her go up on stage. In the months leading up to the elections, hundreds of thousands of people held an unprecedented grassroots campaign and went door-to-door to campaign for the only woman. Her supporters saw her as an opponent of her Marcos and touted her as a accomplished leader capable of bringing about change.
Robredo’s remarks, as her running mate and vice-president Senator Francis Pangilinan told supporters: “The fight isn’t over yet. Especially at a time when lies and deception are gaining strength.”
Ms. Robredo didn’t offer any official concessions, but her remarks acknowledged that she had admitted an almost certain defeat. Official results of this week’s general election are expected at the end of this month.
Understanding the Philippine Presidential Election
It is a consequential election. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of a former Filipino dictator of the same name, appears to have won a divisive presidential election, raising profound questions about the future of Southeast Asia’s oldest democracy. Here’s what you need to know:
US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Prime Minister Marcos on Thursday. His victory marked a surprising comeback for a family displaced 36 years ago after millions of Filipinos flooded the streets of Manila in peaceful protests known as the “People Power” uprising.
Critics of Mr. Marcos say they fear that democratic norms will be further eroded under him.
However, Robredo ended his speech with a hopeful remark. She said she would establish a non-governmental organization focused on helping marginalized people with “the most extensive volunteer network in the history of our country.”
Ms. Robredo said her supporters were upset about the loss, but “What I’ve learned in difficult situations is that healing doesn’t come while you grapple alone. It comes when you start to focus on other people.”
“You can cry,” said Robredo. “But when you are ready to wipe your tears, prepare and be strong, for we have work to do.”