MANILA, Philippines – The camp of vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr fired the opening salvo – and faced an early disappointment – at the canvassing of votes in Congress on Wednesday, May 25.
In the first few minutes of the canvassing of votes on Wednesday, Marcos’ lawyer Didagen Dilangalen moved to separately canvass the votes for president and vice president.
Dilangalen said Congress, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, should immediately canvass the votes for president “so that we can immediately proclaim” Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as the next Philippine leader.
Duterte’s main rivals have already conceded, and the mayor has started to form his Cabinet even before being proclaimed by Congress.
Dilangalen however said that “for obvious reasons,” Congress cannot move as quickly in tallying the votes for vice president.
Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Leni Robredo leads Marcos by a slim margin – 219,127 votes – in the unofficial tally from 96.14% of polling precincts.
Dilangalen said: “The vice presidential position is tightly and hotly contested. We all should proceed with caution and examine each certificate of canvass (COC), both electronically transmitted and manually transmitted.” (READ: Marcos lawyer: ‘We will challenge every COC’)
The heads of the joint canvassing committee refused to immediately entertain Dilangalen’s motion.
‘Take your seats’
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, head of the Senate panel in the joint canvassing committee, said they “will proceed on a per COC basis.”
House Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II, head of the House panel in the same committee, said they will follow the rules adopted by both houses of Congress on Tuesday, May 24.
Gonzales also told Dilangalen: “We cannot recognize your motion because you are not a member of this committee. At best, we can only make that, although inappropriately, as your manifestation.”
He then reminded lawyers that their “time for recognition” comes “at the time that we will present a particular COC.” He said, “This is not debatable.”
Then Gonzales told Dilangalen, as well as another lawyer waiting for his turn: “May we request both counsels to take their respective seats, because we are in the process of canvassing the votes in accordance with the Constitution and the mandate given to us by our laws.”
He added: “Otherwise, if the respective counsels will not take their seat, then we will be forced to direct our respective secretary generals to force you to take your respective seats. Can you please take your respective seats because this is not the proper time for you to make any manifestation?”
Dilangalen interjected, “Your honor, please.”
Gonzales cut Dilangalen: “As I have said, this is not the proper time for you to make the manifestation. Can you please take your respective seats?”
The first day of canvassing is ongoing as of posting time. – Rappler.com