The next President and Vice President of the Philippines could be jointly proclaimed by Congress on Monday, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after the first session of Congress sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), Pimentel said lawmakers will be able to finish the canvassing and proclaim the winners of the presidential and vice presidential race by May 30 if they are able to sustain their current pace of tallying the votes.
“At this rate—we have finished around 25 percent of the number of COCs (certificates of canvass) and in terms of votes cast, [that’s] around 10 million— so assuming lang, at this rate, we’ll be done by Monday. The proclamation will also be done on Monday because you don’t delay [the process] anymore,” he said.
Pimentel, one of the presiding officers of the NBOC, said he sees no reason to proclaim the president and vice president separately despite the repeated appeals of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s camp for Congress to immediately proclaim Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as president-elect and then proceed with the canvassing of votes for vice president carefully because it is a hotly contested race.
“You only do the proclamation separately for serious reasons which you cannot cure, and because of the exigencies of time, you have to proceed with the partial proclamation. But if it can be avoided, the normal and natural thing to do is to proclaim all of the winners together,” he said.
Asked if he is in favor of separate proclamation for the president and vice president, Pimentel said: “I have an open mind but I will only be persuaded by a grave, important reasons that we need to proclaim someone ahead of the other or we have to proclaim the other later than the first one.”
As of 9:26 p.m. Wednesday, the NBOC managed to process 27 percent or 45 out of 165 certificates of canvass from across the country.
Three COCs—those from Ilocos Sur, Laguna, and Davao Del Norte—were deferred after the board observed certain discrepancies that need to be explained
The NBOC has so far accounted for 10,440,910 votes for president and 10,208,514 votes for vice president.
Pimentel expressed confidence that the discrepancies in the three COCs which have been deferred will be resolved immediately when the NBOC reconvenes Thursday at 2 p.m.
“Yung tatlong COCs na na-set aside, kailangan lang ipaliwanag. We just need an explanation. But definitely, we’ll be able to determine the votes of each candidate. I believe tomorrow we will be enlightened and we’ll be able to settle the issue immediately,” he said.
The NBOC has asked the provincial board of canvassers of the areas concerned to appear before the panel Thursday to address the issues surrounding the documents.
In a separate interview, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal said they see no problem with the deferment of the three COCs.
“Walang problema doon. At kung ‘yun ay tatanggalin, lamang na lamang doon si Mr. Marcos—mahigit 200,000 ang lamang niya doon. Kung ipatatanggal nila, eh di lalo pa silang mababawasan,” he said.
Macalintal said the delay in canvassing of the COCs in question only shows there are no problematic election results in the areas in which Robredo won while those which have discrepancies came from places where Marcos edged out his closest rival.
He said Robredo’s camp is confident that the PBOC will be able to satisfactorily explain the reasons for the discrepancies since they have also been likely raised during the canvassing of votes for the senatorial and party-list races.
The latest officially tally of the NBOC shows Robredo getting 3,576,643 votes while Marcos had 3,281,151 votes. — APG, GMA News