Congress hopes to finish canvassing of votes for president, VP at the end of the day

June 3, 2010 8:31 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, June 3 — Congress — the Senate and the House of Representatives — who acts as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) for president and vice president, resumed its proceedings Thursday afternoon, hoping to finish the count before the day ends.

Speaker Prospero Nograles said the joint congressional canvassing would try its best to complete the tally of the remaining 71 certificates of canvass (CoCs), including the 41 CoCs from overseas absentee voting (OAV).

At the resumption of the proceedings at 1:30 p.m., Nograles said some 21 provinces and cities would be canvassed, including Antique, North Cotabato, Southern Leyte, Batangas, Quezon City, Bacolod, and Muntinlupa City.

However, confusion regarding the CoC from Bacolod City slightly delayed the canvassing as the NBOC, composed of nine senators and nine congressmen, found out that there were three CoCs when there should only be two.

They also discovered that the results in the third CoC were different from the other two, which were the CoC electronically transmitted to the NBOC, and the one that was manually prepared.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) explained that the third CoC was a reconciled CoC.

Comelec executive director Jose Tolentino said that the results in the third CoC were different because the electronic (1st) and manual (2nd) CoCs included the result of the final testing and sealing (FTS), which, he said, was a mistake on the part of the board of election inspectors (BEIs) in Bacolod City.

He said the BEIs erroneously included or sent the result of the FTS in the final results it sent to Congress on May 12.

Thus, Tolentino said the Comelec had ordered the provincial board of canvassers in Bacolod City to submit a report on the corrected result that would exclude the FTS.

He said the reconciled (3rd) CoC was sent to the Comelec on May 21.

The joint congressional canvassing committee suspended the canvassing to allow the Comelec to explain the matter more. The body later on decided to defer the canvassing of the Bacolod CoC.

The NBOC also deferred the canvassing of votes from Davao City because of the absence of statement of votes.

As of 2:27 p.m., the NBOC had opened 222 CoCs, the latest of which came from Antique, North Cotabato, Southern Leyte, Batangas, Quezon City, and Abra.

Still leading for the presidential race is Senator Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III with 12,735,059 votes; followed by former president Joseph Estrada with 8,142,527 votes; and Senator Manuel Villar Jr. with 4,533,202 votes.

For vice president, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay maintains its lead with 12,208,662 votes; closely followed by Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II with 11,736,878 votes; Sen. Loren Legarda with 3,486,066 votes.

Manifestations on the "null" votes in various areas were raised before the joint congressional canvassing committee.

Nograles, however, said null votes would not be considered by the joint congressional body, and, instead, advised the lawyers of candidates to file an electoral protest.

“The public controversy regarding the number of null votes which were not read by the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines allegedly numbering more than a million votes for the president and an allegedly whooping 2.6 million for vice president won’t be considered by the joint canvass committee," said Nograles in a text message.

He said the issue "is beyond the function of the joint congressional canvass body."

"This is an issue that is proper in an election protest in the proper venue where votes can be recounted swiftly by merely cross checking the actual ballots cast and the electronic image and the pictures of the ballots that entered the PCOS machine," he added.

Null votes or stray votes are those not counted by the PCOS machine either due to over-shading, under-shading, over-voting or under-voting (or no vote) for a certain position.

During canvassing, the camp of Sen. Roxas said that about 2.6 million votes were considered null votes for vice president, while about a million were null votes for president.

Roxas’ legal counsel said the number of null votes could affect the results for vice president, which has remained a "neck-and-neck" between Roxas and Binay. (PNA)

DCT/LGI

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