Congress to end canvassing today, declare new President, VP
Congress, sitting as National Board of Canvassers for president and vice president, expects to proclaim the winners of the May 9 elections on Wednesday afternoon in what it described as the fastest and “hitchless” counting ever.
As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, with 104 certificates of canvass (COCs) opened or 60 percent of the total representing over 39 million votes, presumptive president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has nearly 23 million votes, while closest rival Vice President Leni Robredo’s votes stood at 10.9 million.
In the vice-presidential race, presumptive VP Sara Duterte-Carpio had 23.1 million votes compared to Senator Francis Pangilinan’s 6.9 million and Senate President Vicente Sotto’s 6 million votes.
Lawmakers shall canvass a total of 173 COCs, then prepare a committee report to submit to Congress for approval, the office of the House Secretary General said in a statement. Once the report is approved, the winners would be summoned to the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City to be proclaimed, it added.
The electronically transmitted COCs have been checked against the physically delivered COCs for discrepancies, and as of press time, no objections have been raised, the House office added.
This developed as the camp of Marcos Jr. said the results of the random manual audit of votes showing a 99.93-percent accuracy of the digitally transmitted election results meant the people have indeed spoken and that their will should be respected.
Legislators said the improvement in the automation system of the Commission on Elections resulted in a smooth-sailing canvass unlike in the past when questions on the accuracy of the count were raised several times, thus delaying the canvas.
As a result of the speedy canvassing of votes, Congress expects to finish canvassing by noon today, and proclaim the winners in the afternoon, said Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla.
Remulla has been reelected but has been tapped by presumptive president Marcos Jr. as the Secretary of Justice, which the Cavite lawmaker said he accepted.
Article VII, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution tasks Congress to canvass votes for president and vice president, thus making the outcome of the elections final.
“We welcome the results of the random manual audit of votes that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) reported,” said Vic Rodriguez, the incoming executive secretary for the new administration.
“We believe that the high accuracy rate proves that the recent elections were not marred by fraud as some sectors have been claiming.
The… results should erase any doubt regarding the election results.
The people have spoken, and they have chosen presumptive President-elect Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos to be the country’s 17th president.”
The random manual audit of votes in the 2022 elections showed a 99.93 percent overall accuracy as of May 21, 2022, after 128 of the 757 randomly selected clustered polling precincts were checked.
Comelec Commissioner George Garcia added that a 99.9 percent accuracy rate was reported for the presidential elections, 99.96 percent for the vice-presidential race, and 99.97 percent for senatorial and party-list polls.
The random manual audit was led by the Comelec, poll watchdogs like LENTE (Legal Network for Truthful Elections), an association of certified public accountants, and the Philippine Statistics Authority.
A random manual audit is conducted to check the performance of vote counting machines and to examine the ballots to validate accuracy.
Rodriguez called on sectors trying to sow doubts about the results of the elections and to stop fanning divisiveness and animosity and instead allow the incoming administration to work productively.
There were no breaks for senators and congressmen assigned to the official canvassing of votes for president and vice president, as they hoped to proclaim the winners by Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning.
“The earliest proclamation of the winning president and vice president would be Wednesday afternoon while the latest is Thursday morning,” said Sotto, who ran as vice president as the running mate of Senator Panfilo Lacson.
The Senate President said the lawyers of Marcos and Duterte were already given a timetable on the canvassing of votes and the proclamation.
The two chambers of Congress officially convened as the National Board of Canvassers in a joint session on Tuesday.
In the morning, lawmakers formed a joint committee to canvass the votes and adopted rules to be followed during the canvassing.
Sotto said the first local certificate of canvass (COC) that the Senate received was from Malabon City, which was delivered to the Senate at 6:56 p.m. on May 10.
The first overseas absentee voting COC came from the Philippine embassy in Cambodia and was delivered to the Senate on May 11 at 6:59 a.m., while the first COC received electronically was from San Juan City on May 9 at 10:28 p.m.
Sotto and Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said they do not see any problem with the canvassing of votes.
“We do not expect any serious objection unless the COC will have incomplete records or does not match what was electronically transmitted. Other than that, we don’t see any serious objection,” Sotto said.
He noted that discrepancies in the canvassing would not necessarily stop the counting of votes.
“It will be set aside so that the canvassing will continue and then later on it will be taken up to find out how the discrepancy came [about],” Sotto said.
Drilon also said the canvassing would go smoothly, given the electronically transmitted results that were backed by a paper trail.
He also said there was no concern about the inclusion of Senator Imee Marcos in the Senate contingent even though her brother is among the candidates for president.
“You can also raise the same concern about Senate President Tito Sotto. You can raise the same concern on Kiko Pangilinan,” Drilon said, noting that both ran for vice president in this year’s election.
House Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez vowed that Congress, acting as the National Board of Canvassers, will uphold the integrity of the electoral process.
Romualdez gave this guarantee even as the House of Representatives and Senate began the canvassing, or the official tabulation of votes cast for the positions of president and vice president, during the May 9 elections.
On Tuesday morning, Romualdez was officially named chairman of the House contingent of the NBOC.
Once begun, the canvassing of votes cast by eligible Filipinos will continue on a 24-hour basis until the winners of the presidential and vice-presidential race are proclaimed.
The actual canvassing took place at the plenary hall of the House of Representatives.
“As the chairperson of the House panel, I give the assurance that the meetings before this committee on the canvassing of votes will be characterized by accuracy, transparency, and expediency,” Romualdez said.