Congress adopts canvass rules; invites Comelec, Smarmatic

May 25, 2010 8:22 pm 

MANILA, May 25 -– The Congress, sitting as the national board of canvassers, suspended the joint session late Tuesday afternoon after adopting the canvass rules which will govern the counting of votes for president and vice president in the last May 10 elections.

Despite over an hour of discussion, the lawmakers from both the Senate and House of Representatives unanimously approved the reconciled version of the House proposed rules.

Most of the raised questions came from congressmen who wanted to assured that only authenticated certificates of canvass (COC) will be canvassed by the special joint committee composed of nine members each from the Senate and the House.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman inquired which documents will be used in the canvass. House speaker Prospero Nograles explained that both electronically transmitted results and the printed certificates will be used by the special joint committee.

With this, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the Congress is requiring the officials from the Commission on Elections, TIM-Smarmatic and information technology experts from both houses of Congress to attend and explain the reported irregularities and complaints.

”The Comelec, Smartmatic and as well as IT experts should explained what really transpired in the last elections,” Enrile said.

Enrile wanted to know what the authenticated process in getting the results from the precinct count optical scan (PICOS) machines.

”The Comelec has also made resolution which it did not follow. In the law, a digital signature is needed in every transmission of the results. Were these process have been followed. We want to clarify everything so that we have a smooth canvassing of votes,” Enrile said.

Enrile warned that if the Comelec and Smarmatic officials refuse to show up, they will be forced to issue subpoeana against the officials.

”If they still don’t show up, we will cite them in contempt,” Enrile warned.

Enrile said it might take two to three days to start the proper canvassing of votes depending on how the officials from the Comelec and Smartmatic would answer the questions regarding the conduct of the country’s first automated elections.

Nograles, however, remains optimistic that it would not take long to start the actual canvass.

”I hoping that it will take only hours to get answer from Comelec and Smartmatic,” Nograles said.

Aside from the canvass rules, the members of the Senate and the House that will compose the special joint congressional canvass committee have been approved during the two-hour session ended at 5:20 p.m.

The nine-man panel of the Senate is composed of Enrile, Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel jr., senators Joker Arroyo, Rodolfo Biazon, Alan Peter Cayetano, Gregorio Honasan, Edgardo Angara and Bong Revilla.

On the part of the House are Nograles, majority leader Arthur Defensor, minority leader Ronaldo Zamora, senior deputy majority leader Neptali Gonzales II, senior deputy minority leader Roilo Golez, Representatives Crispin Remulla, Didagen Dilangalen, Matias Defensor, and Michael John Duavit. (PNA) LOR/jfm

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