Jojo A. Robles

That close race

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A lot of people were saying that it was going to be a very close race. They didn’t know that it wasn’t the battle for the presidency that was going to be really, contentiously fought.

It does boggle the mind: How could a lead of one million votes transmogrify into a deficit of a quarter of a million in an unofficial count that has not had any significant change in any other race, in just half a day?

But I don’t think Rep. Leni Robredo should start claiming victory in the vice presidential contest just yet. And to her credit, in her press conference yesterday, May 10, she didn’t really do so - even if her aura was of someone merely awaiting official confirmation of her unofficial quick-count win.

Still, I wonder why Robredo seems to have a ready explanation for the phenomenon of the vanishing lead of her foremost rival for the position. According to Leni, it seems that the votes gathered by Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had been counted first in areas where he is expected to be dominant, like Northern Luzon; her votes came in later, she said, when the areas where she received more votes started arriving.

In the absence of an official and authoritative explanation from the Commission on Elections, I guess Robredo’s will have to suffice. Or not.

To me, Robredo’s knowledge of what really happened on Monday smacks of inside information that she really should not be in possession of. After all, if we assume that nobody can really tell where and when the next batch of votes toted up in the unofficial tally are coming from, how on earth would Robredo know?

And how come, if Robredo’s explanation is correct, did this bailiwick phenomenon not appear in any other contest? If it is true that the Ilocano-speaking regions had been counted first, why is it that neither Vice President Jejomar Binay nor Senator Grace Poe, who both trace their roots to the region, never took the lead in the same quick count?

Any serious attempt to analyze Robredo’s still-unexplained lead will have to take these things into account. That, and some strange statistical phenomena that started occurring on the night of May 9.

* * *

The website Get Real Philippines (getrealphilippines.com) has noted “the almost algorithmic way with which Robredo chipped away at the initial one-million-vote lead of Marcos over several hours since the voting closed.” According to the article, the statistical aberration “has attracted the attention of many observers.”

On Facebook, the article said, Benjamin Vallejo Jr. “plotted the progressive decrease of Marcos’s lead over Robredo over time and found an almost perfect linear correlation.” “The correlation plotted a straight-path downward trajectory for Marcos’s lead,” the article said.

“Di kapani-paniwala [Unbelievable]!” said Vallejo, a faculty member of the University of the Philippines currently working as an exchange professor at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, noting the perfectly straight line. Talk about your daang matuwid.

Statistician and Ateneo de Manila faculty member David Yap also monitored the downward movement of Marcos’s lead over Robredo and arrived at the same conclusion independently, the site reported.

Yap posted the following numbers on his Facebook site, with the figures on the left reflecting the increase in the tally and the right numbers showing the decrease in Marcos’ lead:

79.65%  530,043

80.40%  490,310

82.08%  421,499

82.71%  389,818

83.84%  345,373 

84.43%  322,584 

84.90%  293,957 

85.78%  248,466

“Starting from the 80 percent mark, [Marcos’] lead has been dwindling by 40,000 per one percent [increase in the count]. Ang linis ng progression [The progression is so clean],” Yap reported.

“I’m calling it now: by 92 percent to 93 percent, Bongbong and Leni will be tied,” Yap predicted. “I’ve been tracking the returns and the increments make the pattern so obvious.”

But Yap erred, obviously. As of 7:45 p.m. last night, May 10, with 93.78 percent of the quick count completed, Robredo was already ahead by 229,586 votes. The 200,000-plus Robredo lead was first set at the middle of the day yesterday, stabilizing at that level on average for the rest of Tuesday.

But the trend was apparently set in the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 10, when everybody thought Marcos already had the election in the bag. The story still doesn’t have an ending, what with less than 2.5-million votes still unaccounted for.

Let’s see how this turns out. Some people will have a lot of explaining to do.

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Cynthia V. Reyes DMD