Lawyers push for urgent proclamation of Senate bets

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Lawyers push for urgent proclamation of Senate bets
Election lawyer George Garcia says there is an 'urgency to proclaim' winning senators in the May 13 elections

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyers on Sunday, May 19, pushed for the urgent proclamation of winning senators, as pending certificates of canvass (COCs) prevented the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from proclaiming the winners this weekend as earlier planned.

In an interview with reporters, election lawyer George Garcia said there is an “urgency to proclaim.”

Garcia said that this is because as the proclamation gets more and more delayed, different political camps begin to float issues not necessarily related to canvassing.

“It’s part of democracy and part of due process. But we see so many people calling for this and that, floating issues unrelated to canvassing, unrelated to the results of the elections,” the lawyer told reporters in a mix of English and Filipino.

But Garcia said that “at this point,” because only a few COCs remain uncanvassed, it is better “to wait for the remainder of COCs.”

Garcia’s clients include senatorial bets Grace Poe, Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla, Francis Tolentino, Sonny Angara, JV Ejercito, Pia Cayetano, and Koko Pimentel, as well as PDP-Laban as a party.

Unlike Garcia, lawyer Abdul Basar, who represents senatorial candidate Bato dela Rosa, urged the Comelec to conduct a partial proclamation of winning senators. Basar pushed particularly for the proclamation of Dela Rosa as senator because he said his client’s lead is now insurmountable.

“Our candidate, our principal, should be proclaimed,” said Basar.

“We must respect the mandate of the people. It’s already there, they already won, so why not proclaim them already?” he said. 

Comelec Director Frances Arabe said the poll body has not set a date for the proclamation of winning senators and party-list groups. It is however preparing “logistical concerns” such as whether senators or party-list groups should be proclaimed first.

Arabe said the Comelec targets to conduct the proclamation early this week.

The Comelec, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), has canvassed 161 out of 167 COCs as of 3 pm on Sunday. The NBOC is on recess as of posting time, and is expected to resume canvassing at 7 pm. – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.