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To speed up process, Comelec used 'grouped' canvass report for proclamation

To expedite the tallying of votes in the May 13 national elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it based the proclamation of winning senatorial candidates on both certificates of canvass (COC) and "grouped" canvass reports.

The grouped canvass reports refer to a consolidated tally of votes per position from the provincial and city canvassers that have not yet transmitted their certificates of canvass (COC) to the Comelec.

The COC, on the other hand, contains the total votes from provinces, highly-urbanized cities and overseas absentee voting centers. It also reflects the grouped canvass reports.

Once the grouped canvass reports are submitted, the Comelec, which is sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), will validate them with the lower board of canvassers, according to poll commissioner Lucenito Tagle.

Comelec Resolution No. 9706 said the grouped canvass reports served as "basis to determine the votes obtained by all the candidates for senator."

The latest resolution was promulgated Thursday at 9 a.m. but was only made available on Friday.

An earlier resolution, Resolution No. 9701, stated that the grouped canvass reports serve the "need to monitor the results to be transmitted ... by the different provincial... and city board of canvassers."

The resolution applies to boards of canvassers who have not yet transmitted their COCs to the NBOC by 5 p.m. last May 15, which have effectively delayed canvassing and consolidation.

Tagle said the group canvassed report is a "validated" and "official" count of votes, debunking speculations that the proclamation was based on unofficial votes.

"'Yung group canvass report, 'yan 'yung mga pinagsama-sama na na-canvass ng provincial board of canvassers," he said. "After canvassing 10 or 20 certificates of canvass, gumagawa kami ng grouped canvass report. Tapos bina-validate namin."

He said they patterned it after the style of canvassing in overseas absentee voting.

The lower level canvassers are required to use the consolidation and canvassing system (CCS) from the provincial or city levels to transmit their grouped canvass reports that show the votes obtained by the senatorial candidates. The NBOC will then count the votes based on the group reports.

Meanwhile, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) chairperson Henrietta De Villa pointed out that Thursday night's proclamation was the first one done without announcing the votes.

She noted though that according to their unofficial count based on the transparency server, through which media partners release the unofficial tallies, the proclaimed senatorial elects have enough votes to remain in the top six.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, in a phone interview, said the Comelec has committed a "grave abuse of discretion" on proclaiming candidates without the votes.  — Marc Jayson Cayabyab/KBK, GMA News