A joint session of Congress, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) for votes from the presidential and vice presidential races in the May 9 elections, may postpone the proclamation of the Vice President pending resolution of complaints and other issues surrounding the very slim lead of Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo over Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal explained over the weekend that Congress can reset the proclamation even if the Constitution provides that a new President and Vice President and more than 18,000 other national and local elected officials should assume office by noon of June 30.
“It’s okay even if there is no Vice President by June 30. The President can take over,” Larrazabal said in an interview with radio station DZMM.
He added that what is important is for the NBOC to proclaim a President before June 30 because it is a symbol of the stability of the country.
“What I’m emphasizing is we can’t hold hostage the presidential proclamation because there is a problem in the [proclamation]of the Vice President. You can set aside the proclamation of the Vice President at a later time till all issues are settled,” Larrazabal said.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon on Sunday said the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the Senate President would be in a better position to speak on the matter as Congress is the official canvasser of votes for President and Vice President.
Former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman said Larrazabal may have a point but believes that it was not necessary as the issues being raised can be resolved quickly.
“I don’t think that’s necessary,” Lagman added.
“The official canvass is seing a different set of data and most likely a different set of computer programs, not the same software that created the hash code issue.”
Lagman, an information technology expert, said an alteration made by technology provider by Smarmatic on the script of the Comelec’s transparency server has no effect on the election results.
Election lawyer Manuelito Luna concurred with Larrazabal that Congress may postpone the proclamation of the Vice President not on the basis of law but on its sound discretion.
“Since Leni’s lead is thin and suspect, Congress may do so in the exercise of sound discretion only. It will not be based on law,” Luna pointed out.
Clean election advocate and lawyer Glenn Chong agreed that Congress as the NBOC may reset the proclamation of the Vice President.
“As the National Board of Canvassers for President and Vice President, they have the power to determine the due execution of the COC and [their]supporting documents. They can decide on the question,” Chong said.
As of Saturday, Robredo was still ahead of Marcos by more than 200,000 votes.
Marcos has accused the Liberal Party of rigging the elections, which Robredo denied.
The senator, through lawyer Francesca Huang, earlier said the introduction of a new script altered the original hash code, which in effect also changed the election results on the transparency server.
Huang claimed that the new script started the “rather distinctive pattern” of vote padding and vote shaving that wiped out the almost one million lead of Marcos over Robredo.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista had admitted the “unauthorized” introduction by Smartmatic of the new script but said it was a minor “cosmetic” change that did not in any way affect the results.
THE Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System (JCOC-AES) will be conducting its own inquiry into the supposed tampering by Smartmatic with the transparency server.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, chairman of the JCOC-AES said, the hearing will focus on actions made by Smartmatic on the transparency server at the height of the unofficial quick count being conducted by various election watchdogs and media networks.
Among those who will be invited to the probe are officials of Smartmatic and the Comelec and representatives of the poll watchdogs and their respective IT experts in a bid to shed light on the incident.
A Smartmatic representative, without asking permission from the Comelec, changed the hash code of a data packet containing election results received by the transparency server of the poll body.
Marlon Garcia claimed that the modification, which happened at around 7 p.m. (May 9), only involved a single character in the name of a certain candidate and had no effect on the votes garnered by other candidates.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon had recommended an investigation of possible breach of protocol by Smartmatic.
Meanwhile, Glenn Chong, a member of election watchdog Automated Election System Watch, has announced his plan to ask the Supreme Court to nullify the results of the vice presidential race.
Glenn Chong, a member of, on the other hand will be filling a petition asking SC to nullify the vice presidential race.