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Final 3 senators-elect proclaimed

The final three senators-elect – Gringo Honasan (right), Cynthia Villar (second from right) and JV Ejercito (second from left) – raise their hands after being proclaimed along with Koko Pimentel and Nancy Binay by the Commission on Elections at the Philippine International Convention Center last night. JONJON VICENCIO

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday proclaimed the final three winning senators, completing the magic 12 in this year’s senatorial race.

The three newly proclaimed senators are Cynthia Villar, who landed in 10th place with 13,696,120 votes; JV Ejercito who took the 11th slot with 13,552,991 votes; and Gringo Honasan who got the 12th place with 13,070,031 votes.

Honasan had to fight it out with former senator Richard Gordon, who was ahead of him during the first two days of the national canvassing conducted by the Comelec sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC).

Gordon ended up with 12,364,091 votes, representing a vote margin of 705,940 for Honasan.

Senators-elect Nancy Binay and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III also came to join the proclamation ceremony. The two snubbed their scheduled proclamations last Thursday and Friday, respectively, to protest what they alleged were irregular canvassing and proclamation procedures of the Comelec.

It was a star-studded proclamation as the new senators were accompanied by their famous family members.

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Among others, Ejercito arrived with his father, newly elected Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, while Binay came with her father, Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Villar, on the other hand, came with husband Sen. Manny Villar and their children.

In an ambush interview, Vice President Binay expressed satisfaction with the 9-3 breakdown between Team PNoy and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

“Basta hindi (As long as it’s not) zero,” Binay said.

No hard feelings

Honasan admitted that he felt bad that it was Gordon that he bumped off from the 12th slot since they both belong to UNA.

 Honasan said he felt bad because he and Gordon are friends and what brought them together in UNA was a common platform.

He said there were no hard feelings. Gordon even indicated that they were “okay and we have nothing to worry about,” he said.

On Honasan’s proclamation, Comelec Commission Christian Rober Lim said it was “statistically impossible” for Gordon to overtake Honasan even if all the uncanvassed votes were canvassed.

“The lead of Sen. Honasan over Sen. Gordon is about 750,000. So we compute the votes in overseas absentee voting that have not yet been encoded and the un-transmitted (certificates of canvass) from the municipalities, the total is about 355,000,” he added.

Lim said even assuming that Honasan gets zero votes while Gordon obtains “perfect voting” in these areas, the former senator would still be trailing Honasan.

Koko calls for election audit

Pimentel, meanwhile, earlier yesterday called for an audit of the entire automated election system to determine if the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines used in the elections are still reliable.

If the audit shows the PCOS system is no longer reliable, Pimentel said, the Comelec could demand a refund from Smartmatic, which sold the machines.

“Let’s do an audit so that we can see the good with the bad,” he said.

Pimentel also called on the Comelec to review the procedure in proclaiming the winning senatorial candidates in last Monday’s elections.

Pimentel said his experience as an election lawyer prompted him to question why the Comelec had to rush the earlier proclamation of the nine winning candidates even though the votes had not been fully counted.

“We know a thing or two about the doctrine in canvassing. As much as possible all the votes must be canvassed first,” he said.  – With Marvin Sy

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