MANILA (Mabuhay) — Congress on Monday afternoon proclaimed Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte and Camarines Sur Representative Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo as the next president and vice president of the country, respectively.
The proclamation came after Congress, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, finished the canvassing of votes with Duterte officially winning the presidential elections with 16,601,997, and Robredo, the vice presidential polls with 14,418,817.
Duterte was a mile ahead of his closest pursuer, administration candidate Mar Roxas, who had more than nine million votes.
Robredo, meanwhile, won the vice presidency in a tight race as she led second placer Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. by only more than 260,000 votes.
Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. made the proclamation at 4:10 p.m., close to an hour after the joint session started.
The motion for the proclamation of Duterte and Robredo was made by Senate Majority Alan Peter Cayetano and House Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II.
Duterte skipped the proclamation ceremonies with his executive assistant Bong Go saying that the president-elect was busy with his “chores” as outgoing Davao City mayor.
In a television interview after the proclamation, Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte was busy trying to complete the members of his Cabinet.
Panelo and Vitaliano Aguirre, who will be Duterte’s secretary of justice, attended the proceedings.
Duterte, who had been meeting well-wishers, possible appointees, politicians, and foreign envoys in Davao City since he was presumed the winner, earlier said that he would not attend the proclamation rites.
He said he had not attended such ceremonies when he won elections in Davao City.
With Duterte absent, the gallery’s loudest applause went to Robredo, who was joined by her daughters Aika, Tricia, and Jillian as well as her supporters.
Drilon and Belmonte, Robredo’s partymates in the ruling Liberal Party, raised her hands at the House rostrum.
Her walk from her seat to the rostrum was slowed down by a bevy of her colleagues, who congratulated her and moved to have pictures taken with her.
Before going to the House of Representatives in Quezon City, Robredo attended a thanksgiving Mass at St. Peter Parish along Commonwealth Avenue.
The proclamation was preceded by the approval of the joint congressional committee’s report showing Duterte and Robredo as the winners in the May 9 elections, as well as the Resolution of Both Houses proclaiming the duly elected President and Vice President.
In moving for the adoption of the report and resolution, NBOC co-chair Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said: “The results of the canvass showed that Rodrigo “Rody” Roa Duterte and Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo obtained the highest number of votes for president and vice president, respectively.”
Although the approval of the two documents went without a hitch, the occasion was marred by a Visayan lawmaker’s protest about the non-inclusion of his name in the roll call during the canvassing, and the questions raised by an ally of losing vice presidential bet, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., regarding the conduct of the May 9 polls.
Speech of Marcos’ ally
In his privilege speech before House moved to approve the NBOC report and Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz said the automated election system in place “has been shown to be vulnerable to external manipulations.”
While the lawmaker said he will elaborate on the issues he found regarding the automation of elections at the proper time and place, he said he does not agree with the NBOC’s tally of the votes.
“Let there be no doubt that while I strongly disagree with the National Board of Canvassers’ count, we accept it. We accept the finality of the count, which will be ratified by the joint session. And so for the sake of our country, our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer our congratulations and godspeed,” he said.
Duterte and Robredo in 2015 expressed their reluctance to run for the two highest positions in the country.
They initially said they had no ambition to take on national posts.
Duterte shot down rumors of his last-minute push for president during the filing of certificate of candidacy in October 2015 when he filed for reelection as Davao City Mayor.
Duterte’s party PDP-Laban fielded Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) chairman Martin Diño as their presidential bet.
Diño’s candidacy, however, kept the door open for a partymate like Duterte to become a substitute candidate.
Diño eventually withdrew his candidacy in December and Duterte filed his certificate of candidacy for president.
The mayor withdrew from the mayoral race and his daughter Sara took on his candidacy for mayor.
LP’s first choice to be the running mate of their standard bearer Mar Roxas was Senator Grace Poe, who eventually decided to join the presidential race with Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero.
Outgoing President Benigno Aquino III and Roxas then turned to Robredo who was hesitant at first mainly because her daughters did not want her to run.
In the end, Robredo agreed to be Roxas’ running mate, saying that her late husband former Interior Secretary Jessie Robredo would also do the same for the country.
No post for Leni yet
Speaking to reporters over the weekend, Duterte admitted that he had yet to decide on what government post to give Robredo.
“I have not considered anything for her because I’m more worried about where I would place the friends that nagka-utang ako ng loob [from whom I have debt of gratitude],” he said.
For her part, Robredo said that she was giving the President-elect her full support with or without a Cabinet post. (MNS)