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Days ahead of the elections, presidential candidate and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. released a video that reminds Filipinos to practice unity — a recurring theme in his electoral campaign — and to “not allow votes to be stolen again,” seemingly insisting on the narrative that he had been cheated in the 2016 vice-presidential election, a claim that has been firmly rejected by the Supreme Court after four years of litigation.
The first half of Marcos’ video, which runs two minutes and 21 seconds long, shows the Pulse Asia survey frontrunner spewing motherhood statements in Filipino about “rising above squabbles and arguments” before making the under-handed reference to his 2016 voter fraud conspiracy theory at the 1:50 mark.
“Sa darating na Mayo a-nueve ay kailangan din po tayong maging mapagbantay sa ating mga boto (When May 9 comes, we need to be vigilant about our votes),” Marcos Jr. said after encouraging viewers to “unite as one and vote in the precincts.”
“Protektahan po natin ang ating naging desisyon at huwag po nating hayaang ito’y muling nakawin sa atin (Let us protect whatever we have decided, and let us not let our votes be stolen from us again),” he added.
After losing by a margin of 263,473 votes to Vice President Leni Robredo in 2016, Marcos Jr. launched a series of electoral protests before the Supreme Court which sat as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, in which he demanded a recount of the ballots. In one recount, Robredo’s lead even grew in the three pilot provinces handpicked by Marcos himself: Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur. In that recount, Robredo earned 1,510,178 votes compared to Marcos’ 204,512 votes — widening the lead compared to her 1,493,517 votes in these areas against Marcos’ 202,136 votes in 2016.
The Supreme Court moved to unanimously junk Marcos’ protest in February 2021, ending four years of litigation and several attempts to force lead justices to recuse themselves from the case after the defeated candidate failed to present specific evidence to support his claims of electoral fraud, such as the time and manner of irregularities.