Congress begins marathon canvassing for president, VP

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Congress begins marathon canvassing for president, VP
This photo taken March 23, 2020 shows the House of Representatives in a special session to tackle proposed measures to grant President Rodrigo Duterte with additional powers to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The STAR/Felicer Santos

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 1:36 p.m.) — The Senate and the House of Representatives convened Tuesday in a joint session as the National Board of Canvassers to officially count the votes for president and vice president and eventually proclaim the winners for these polls.

For the first time in the history of the country’s automated elections, Congress will be working round-the-clock to canvass the votes for president and vice president in the hopes of proclaiming winners in these races by Wednesday.

“We are looking at two days,” Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri told reporters in a press conference on Monday. “With this kind of outcome where the difference [of votes between candidates] is huge and convincing … we don’t really see too many problems that may arise.”

Presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his running mate, presumptive vice president Sara Duterte-Carpio have secured convincing leads in their respective races, garnering over 31 million votes respectively, according to partial and unofficial results.

To make the outcome of the elections final, Article VII, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution tasks Congress to canvass votes for president and vice president.

Canvassing process

Congress has created a canvassing committee composed of members of the Senate and the House to compare the physical certificates of canvass with digital COCs to see if they match in figures and signatures.

“We do not expect any serious objections unless the COC will have incomplete records orv does not match what was electronically transmitted,” Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III told reporters at a press conference at the sidelines of the joint session.

Should there be any discrepancies, the NBOC will defer the canvass of the COC and require the concerned board of canvassers to appear before it to explain the difference.

If personal appearance is not possible, the concerned board of canvassers to appear through any form of communication deemed safe and reliable by the joint panel.

The panel, with seven members each from the Senate and the House, is jointly chaired by Zubiri and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.

Aside from Zubiri, the upper chamber’s representatives are Sens. Nancy Binay, Imee Marcos, Grace Poe and Pia Cayetano. Serving as alternates in the panel are Sens. Lito Lapid, Risa Hontiveros, Koko Pimentel and Bato dela Rosa.

Meanwhile, the House contingent includes Romualdez, Reps. Crispin Remulla (Cavite), Abraham Tolentino (Cavite), Kristine Singson-Meehan (Ilocos Sur), Sharon Garin (AAMBIS-OWA party-list), Manuel Dalipe (Zamboanga City) and Juliet Ferrer (Negros Occidental).

Alternates in the House panel are Reps. Juan Pablo Bondoc (Pampanga), Johnny Pimentel (Surigao del Sur), Alfredo Garbin (Ako Bicol party-list) and Stella Quimbo (Marikina).


Sotto projects that the earliest possible time for Congress to proclaim in the presidential and vice presidential races is on Wednesday afternoon, provided that there are no hitches.

But on Tuesday, canvassing encountered a minor hiccup as the delivery from the Senate to the House of eight COCs from Chile, South Africa, Timor Leste, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, Czech Republic and Nigeria was delayed due to traffic.

This does not include eight more COCs, including the one from Lanao del Sur where a failure of elections was declared, which has not yet been received by the Senate.

Despite this, Sotto said he is confident that Congress will be able to canvass the votes speedily and proclaim a winner within the week.


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