The Philippine Congress sitting as National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) will not delay the proclamation of vice presidential race frontrunner Leni Robredo amid suspicions of poll rigging claimed by the camp of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd of Mandaluyong City (Metro Manila), the head of the Congressional Committee of the NBOC, said a separate proclamation for the Vice President and President is illogical because votes for both positions will only be sourced from the same Certificates of Canvass (COC).
As of May 22, Robredo (14, 415,355) leads Marcos (14, 152,726) by 262,609 votes based on hard copies of the COC and Election Returns that her camp possesses, her Liberal Party being the dominant majority party, and on COC data available from the Comelec website.
“When you talk about a COC of a city or a province, there’s only one COC. In fact, it’s the same COC for the [votes for]senators. It’s one observation for the same COC. If we find that… due execution of COC is okay, then it is okay for the entirety [covering votes for President, Vice President and senators],” Gonzales told reporters.
In a privileged speech on Monday, Marcos congratulated presumptive President and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and the 12 candidates who were proclaimed Senator-elect this week but cried possible election fraud in the vice presidential contest.
“How do you effect a separate proclamation for President and Vice President? I don’t want to prejudge, but we are talking of one COC. If the COC is good for [the vote for the]President, then it has to be good for Vice President. If it’s not good for President, then it must not be good for Vice President. If it cannot be good for Vice President, it cannot be good for the President,” Gonzales said.
He heads the House of Representatives’ panel for the NBOC that also includes Elpidio Barzaga of Dasmariñas (Cavite), Romero Quimbo of Marikina City (Metro Manila), Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City, Rey Umali of Oriental Mindoro, Fred Castro of Capiz, 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello 3rd and House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora of San Juan City (Metro Manila).
Congress received 129 ballot boxes and 58 pouches containing votes from overseas voting on Monday.
Gonzales clarified that Congress is only sitting as Board of Canvassers that is mandated to count the votes, not investigate allegations of vote buying and anything that is not contained in the COC.
“We sit as Board of Canvassers who will tabulate the votes. We are not the Board of Inquiry. You can’t be allowed to present evidence of vote buying and other offenses outside of the COC every single time because we won’t finish counting the votes in such a situation,” he said.
“If there is a protest, the battle is before the Supreme Court,” Gonzales added, referring to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which has jurisdiction over electoral protests involving results from presidential and vice presidential races.
Congress is yet to start the canvassing of votes as of 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday pending quorum.