Abakada Party list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz maintained that the winners in the presidential and vice presidential elections may be proclaimed separately.
When the Senate and the House of Representatives held a joint session on Tuesday, Dela Cruz, the campaign adviser of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., proposed amending the rules of the canvass so that the President and Vice President can be proclaimed separately.
His proposal was dismissed, however, and the rules were adopted without amendments.
The lawmaker noted that the Certificates of Canvass (COC) consist of two documents, one containing the votes for the President and the other the votes for the Vice President, thus, separate canvasses and proclamations are possible.
“If the presidential canvass is uncontested, then the President-elect can be proclaimed separately from the Vice President,” he said.
In the case of presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte, dela Cruz added that the mayor can be proclaimed tomorrow after the joint congressional committee had tallied all the votes for him because all his rivals have conceded.
“There is no need for us even to go through the COC for the President,” he said.
After adopting the rules, the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) started opening the ballot boxes containing the COC in preparation for the canvass of votes for the President and Vice President.
Dela Cruz, however, said that since there are various issues that have to be looked into and several COC that have to be examined in the case of the vice presidential elections, the canvass should proceed.
Senate Minority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd said the rules allow the holding of separate canvases and proclamations for the President and Vice President.
He proposed a similar amendment earlier, arguing that in case of a question on the COC regarding any one of the elective positions, separate considerations of votes should be done to avoid unnecessary delay in the canvass and proclamation.
“The explanation that was given to me is that that [option]is already incorporated in the rules, so I asked for an assurance that that is their interpretation and that is going to be the interpretation of the [joint]committee,” Sotto said.
He withdrew his proposed amendment after Senate Majority Leader and Senate President Franklin Drilon gave assurances that the rules should be interpreted as such.
In a privileged speech on Monday, Marcos called for separate proclamations of President and Vice President as he also raised various issues that cast doubt on the integrity of the elections.
Among these issues were the introduction of a script in the transparency server used in the polls without proper authorization from the Commission on Elections en banc, as well as various incidents of vote-buying, intimidation and other efforts to disenfranchise voters.