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Pimentel: Pinpoint specific COCs in canvassing objections

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Aquilino Pimentel III on Tuesday, May 24, said that candidates for president and vice president who intend to contest the results of the official canvassing must specify the certificates of canvass (COC) 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.

Heading the Senate panel in the joint canvassing committee, Pimentel said that they will hear every objection to the COCs because it is in the canvassing rules.

The Senate and the House of Representatives approved the rules in a joint session on Tuesday.

Pimentel’s colleague in the Senate, 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’ camp has alleged cheating in the elections after Liberal Party (LP) bet Leni Robredo snatched the lead from him in the unofficial tally, based on unofficial results transmitted by precinct-based vote-counting machines to the Transparency Server of the Commission on Elections.

On record

Meanwhile, House Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II implied that scrutiny of the COCs would simply be recorded for the purpose of filing an electoral protest later with the Supreme Court.

He noted that challenging the election results really happen in the court and that Congress is mandated to look only into the execution of the COCs. 

“Halimbawa may erasure or may doubt, 'pinapatawag lang ang canvasser to let them explain. (For example, there is an erasure or doubt, the canvasser is summoned to explain.)  As a matter of rule, you don’t go beyond the COC,” said Gonzales, who chairs the House panel in the canvassing committee. 

In an explainer for Rappler, election lawyer Emil Marañon III said:

Following Article VII, Section 4, of the 1987 Constitution, NBOC's mandate is to canvass the votes as reflected in the certificates of canvass (COC) transmitted to Congress by the Board of Canvassers (BOC) of each province or city.

NBOC’s discretion is limited to the determination of the “authenticity and due execution in the manner provided by law” of the COCs transmitted to it for canvassing. It has no power to go beyond the COC as appearing before them, except for 3 grounds detailed in Section 37 of Republic Act Number 9369:

 

Outside of these grounds, the canvass of votes is ministerial.

Given this, it is clear that the NBOC has no authority to entertain allegations of extraneous fraud or those outside of the face of the COC, like vote-buying, substituted voting, etc. Those issues of fraud cannot be entertained until after proclamation, in an election protest proceeding, and exclusively by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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