Ilocos Sur, Laguna, Davao del Norte canvassers ordered to face Congress

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The provincial boards of canvassers (PBOCs) of Ilocos Sur, Laguna, Davao del Norte have been summoned to appear before the joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon, May 26, to explain the discrepancies in the certificates of canvass (COCs) from their areas.

Sitting as national board of canvassers (NBOC) of the votes for president and vice president, the joint committee and the candidates’ legal counsels noted that the figures in the electronically- and physically-transmitted COCs of the 3 provinces did not match.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, chair of the Senate panel of the joint committee, ordered the PBOCs to immediately appear before the NBOC at 2 pm on the second day of the official canvassing.

Canvassing of COCs from the 3 provinces was suspended Wednesday pending the explanation from the provincial canvassers. (READ: What will Congress do with mismatched COCs, electronic count?)

Discrepancies

The results printed through the Consolidation and Canvassing System (CCS) of vote-rich Laguna did not tally with the numbers in the physical copy of the COC, which had been amended by the PBOC.

Romeo Macalintal, lawyer for Liberal Party vice presidential bet Leni Robredo, said this matter was already taken upon during the canvassing of votes for senators. He said that there was an amendment because the initial copy of the COC did not include the results from the municipality of Rizal.

“The results from Rizal was not transmitted. What was transmitted was the pre-election accuracy test results of Laguna,” Macalintal explained.

“What the chairman in Laguna did was to re-transmit with the [knowledge] of all the candidates, watchers, and lawyers,” he added.

In the case of llocos Sur, the NBOC and the candidates’ lawyers found irregularities when the physical version of the COC matched with only 1 of the 4 printed digital versions of the COC. The 3 other printouts matched each other. All 4 printed COCs also did not contain a timestamp.  

For Davao del Norte, only 2 of the 3 printed results that were transmitted electronically matched with the physically-transmitted COCs.

“The COC manually-transmitted from the Senate is the same as the electronically-transmitted [one], with regards to 2 of the 3 copies. [The] 3rd copy is different,” House panel member Dasmariñas Representative Elpidio Barzaga announced.

Of the 3 provinces, Laguna has the largest voting population with 1,675,366 registered voters. It is followed by Davao del Norte, with with 525,342, and Ilocos Sur, with 411,951 voters.

Minor hurdle

Pimentel expressed confidence that the 3 deferred COCs were just a minor hurdle in what had been a smooth canvassing so far.

“We just need an explanation, but definitely we will be able [to determine] the number of votes of the candidate. I believe tomorrow we will settle the issue immediately,” he said in a chance interview.

Asked what would be their course of action if they are not satisfied with the PBOCs’ explanation, Pimentel said: “We will have to find a way of the true votes of the candidates concerned. At the end of the day we cannot finish the canvassing without attributing votes to the candidates in the areas concerned.”

Robredo's camp said it did not mind the suspension of the COCs from the 3 provinces even if there's a possibility these might later be considered void.

“Walang problema 'yun, dahil sa kung 'yun ang tatanggalin ay lamang doon si Mister Marcos. Mahigit dalawandaang libo ang lamang niya doon. Kung tatanggalin nila, sila ang mababawasan,” lawyer Macalintal said, referring to his client's closest rival, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

(We have no problem with that, because if those will be disregarded, Mister Marcos is leading in those places. He is ahead in those areas by more than 200,000 votes. If they push to remove those COCs, they are going to lose votes.) – Rappler.com

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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