Congress set to canvass votes

BBM camp seeks respect for people’s will amid plea to stop tally

Congress will start the canvassing of votes for the presidential and vice presidential races from May 24 until May 27.

‘COC’ LOCKED. A total of 141 Certificates of Canvass (COCs) for President and Vice President, or 81.50 percent of the total 173 COCs expected to be transmitted to the Senate, are delivered to the chamber on Tuesday. Senate PRIB

House of Representatives Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza said the canvassing will begin on May 24 at 2 p.m., while from May 25 to 27, it will be scheduled from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Under the Constitution, the election returns for president and vice president, duly certified by the Board of Canvassers of each province and city, shall be transmitted to Congress.

Upon receipt of the certificates of canvass, the Senate President shall, not later than 30 days after the day of the election, open all certificates in the presence of the Senate and the House in joint public session, and the Congress, upon determination of the authenticity and due execution thereof in the manner provided by law, canvass the votes.

Meanwhile, the camp of presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. issued a statement asking petitioners, who asked the Supreme Court to prevent the Senate and the House of Representatives from canvassing the votes for Marcos and proclaiming him the 17th President, to “respect the will of the people.”

“I appeal to those who keep on pursuing this divisiveness. The people have spoken. The Filipino people have spoken, and an overwhelming majority has voted president-elect Bongbong Marcos and vice president-elect Inday Sara Duterte into office as president and vice president,” spokesman Vic Rodriguez said.

‘COC’ LOCKED. Lawyer Vic Rodriguez (inset), spokesman of presumptive President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., asks petitioners to ‘respect the will of the people’ in a press conference at BBM headquarters in Mandaluyong City.

“We’re all limited to 24 hours in a day. Allow us to be more productive and learn to respect the will of the Filipino people,” he added.

The group of human rights advocates had asked the Court to issue a temporary restraining order to stop Congress from canvassing the votes for Marcos during the joint session of the Senate and House when they convene as the National Board of Canvassers on May 24 until May 27.

The petition was filed Fr. Christian B. Buenafe, co-chairperson of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines; Fides M. Lim, chairperson of the Kapatid-Families and Friends of Political Prisoners; Ma. Edeliza P. Hernandez, executive director of the Medical Action Group, Inc.; Celia Lagman Sevilla, secretary general of the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance, Inc.; Roland C. Vibal of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates; and Josephine Lascano, executive director of the Balay Rehabilitation Center, Inc.

The petition, which was filed May 16, assailed the May 10 resolution of the Commission on Elections en banc, which ruled against the disqualification of Marcos in the May 9 presidential election.

The petitioners named as respondents the Comelec, Marcos, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

The Supreme Court had no full session on Tuesday. Under the rules, the petition has to be raffled off to a justice who will be the justice-in-charge of the case.

However, even without a session, the SC justice-in-charge may recommend action on the plea for TRO and with the approval of Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, the restraining order may be issued.

Comelec Commissioner George Erwin Garcia said it was within the petitioners’ rights to seek redress from the Supreme Court.

Comelec acting Spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco, on the other hand, said that until the Court issues an order, Congress would continue to perform its functions as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) for President and Vice President.

However, he said the Comelec would respect whatever decision the Supreme Court reaches on the petition.

The Comelec also said Tuesday it would continue the canvassing of votes for the Senate and party-list races unless it receives an order from the Supreme Court suspending the counting.

Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said Congress should proceed with the canvassing next week unless the Supreme Court stops them.

“We have a constitutional duty to perform, and we should do it unless the Supreme Court stops us,” Rodriguez said.

Marcos was on top of the partial and unofficial count of votes with 31,104,175 votes based on data from the Comelec Transparency Media Server.

His running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, also maintained a huge lead among other vice presidential candidates with 31,561,948 votes as of May 13.

In other developments:

• The Commission on Elections said it has invited top officials led by President Rodrigo Duterte for the proclamation of the 12 winning senators in the 2022 national elections scheduled for May 18. Aside from President Duterte, other top officials invited include Vice President Leni Robredo, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, and Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo.

• Senator Aquilino Pimentel III urged the Comelec to investigate the alleged massive vote-buying during the national and local elections last May 9. Speaking in an interview over CNN, Pimentel said he received reports from different parts of the country about the prevalent vote-buying. He said some witnesses even showed him photos of money attached on some sample ballots and leaflets.

• The Marcos camp said reports from several diplomatic posts and the Comelec Transparency Server showed Marcos received 330,231 votes from overseas Filipinos, much higher than the 89,624 garnered from his closest rival.

• Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles backed the Department of Education (DepEd)’s proposal to the Comelec to provide an additional P3,000 pay for teachers who served extra hours to handle and address technical glitches and other issues during last week’s national elections.

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