MANILA, Philippines – The Senate and House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 24, adopted the rules that will govern the official canvassing of votes for president and vice president.
A salient point is the guideline for deciding discrepancies between the electronically transmitted and unofficial tally of votes versus the numbers in the “physically delivered” and official certificates of canvass (COCs).
Rule 7 says that the board of canvassers which submitted the inconsistent COCs must personally appear before the Congress joint committee within 24 hours to issue an explanation.
The joint committee is also authorized to audit the devices used in the conduct of the elections, such as vote counting machines and memory cards.
Also included in the guidelines is how Congress will resolve the conflict that may arise if the candidates challenge the COCs, which will be the only basis of the official vote count.
Section 10 of Rule 6 mandates the joint committee – composed of members from both the Senate and the House – “shall decide all questions and issues raised involving the COCs by a majority vote of its members, each panel voting separately."
Voting will only happen after all uncontested COCs have been canvassed.
In the event that the committee is unable to settle the dispute, the committee chairpersons should be the ones to resolve the matter.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and House Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II have been designated as heads of the joint committee’s Senate and House panels, respectively.
Should the heads fail to arrive at a common ground, the Senate President and the House Speaker are mandated to decide the deadlock.
Pimentel said on Tuesday that candidates for president and vice president who intend to contest the results of the official canvassing must specify the COCs that would support their allegations.
“You can’t allege there is cheating in the election as a whole. You have to pinpoint which COC is affected by your allegation of electoral fraud,” he noted in a mix of English and Filipino.
Vice presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr is expected to challenge every COC in the canvassing, as his chief legal counsel George Garcia warned earlier.
Marcos is currently behind Liberal Party (LP) bet Leni Robredo by 200,000 votes in the partial and unofficial tally.
His camp has since alleged cheating in the elections citing the introduction of the new script in the Transparency Server that suspectedly lead to the surge of Robredo's votes. (READ: Robredo vs Marcos: The long and winding road to the vice presidency)
Photo by Jasmin Dulay/Rappler
Aside from adopting the canvassing rules, Congress created the joint canvassing committee, made up of 6 senators and 6 members of the House.
Senators Edgardo Angara, Teofisto Guingona III, Sergio Osmeña III, Ralph Recto of the majority, and minority senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Minority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III will compose the Senate panel.
Alternate members of the panel will be Senator Cynthia Villar for the majority and Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito for the minority.
Meanwhile, the lower house panel will be composed of Dasmariñas City Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr, Marikina Representative Romero Quimbo, Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali, Cagayan de Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez, and Capiz Representative Fredenil Castro of the majority. 1-BAP Party-list Representative Silvestre Bello III, will represent the minority in the joint committee.
Pampanga Representative Oscar Rodriguez, Akbayan Representative Ibarra Gutierrez, and Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr will be alternate members of the majority, while San Juan Representative Ronaldo Zamora will be for the minority.
The official canvassing of votes for the country's two highest positions will start on Wednesday, May 25, at 2 pm. – Rappler.com