A Comelec officer is seen with a ballot box from Maguindanao as canvassing of votes continued at the PICC in Pasay City yesterday.
Krizjohn Rosales
Comelec waiting for 13 COCs, delays proclamation
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - May 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There will be no proclamation of the winning senators and party-list groups today, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced last night.

Comelec-Education and Information Division assistant director Frances Arabe said the poll body, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), still has to tabulate 13 certificates of canvass (COCs) as of 6:30 last night.

“We cannot ascertain when we can hold the proclamation because we are still waiting for 13 COCs. But definitely, we cannot make proclamation (today),” Arabe told a press briefing.

Arabe said the NBOC is waiting for the transmission of COCs from Lanao del Sur, Isabela, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Washington DC, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which she said was delayed due to “problematic vote counting machines and SD cards.” 

On the other hand, the COCs from Oslo, Abuja, Nairobi; Tehran and inmates will have to be brought to PICC-The Forum where the canvassing is being held manually, because voting there was done manually.

“We cannot do the proclamation (today) because we have to set up the area and we also have to notify the winners properly, although we already gave them heads up and we just need to inform them of the exact date and time,” Arabe said.

As of press time, the NBOC had canvassed 149 of the 167 COCs.

The Comelec yesterday also decided not to hold special polls fornational positions in Jones, Isabela and San Pablo, Zamboanga del Sur, where gunmen snatched and burned VCMs.

In Resolution 10545 dated May 18, the Comelec said the “accomplished but uncounted ballots in concerned cluster precincts in Jones and San Pablo can no longer be reconstituted for the pruposes of incluidng in the canvassing.”

Instead, the Comelec authorized the Municipal Board of canvassers for the two towns to “lower the threshhold for national positions only.” This means the results of voting for senators and party-list can now be transmitted to the Comelec for canvassing. the number of votes involved in Jones is 762, while San Pablo has 427 votes. 

Continue counting

Even after the Comelec proclaims the 12 winning senators, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said they would continue with the counting.

PPCRV national chair Myla Villanueva said they would continue validating the election returns (ERs) to determine if there were irregularities.

Villanueva noted the electronic transmission of the votes would stop once the Comelec proclaims the 12 winning senators. 

But even if the transmission of votes from the Comelec’s transparency server would stop, Villanueva stressed they would still continue fulfilling their mandate of encoding and validating the ERs they receive. 

The Church-based PPCRV, which is Comelec’s citizen’s arm, has been receiving the partial and unofficial tally of votes since Monday but Villanueva said they are not expecting to get 100 percent transmission of votes. 

For the next two to three weeks, they would focus on completing the encoding and validation of the ERs so that they could compare these with the results that came through the Comelec’s transmission server.

Villanueva said this part of their work is “highly relevant” even after the proclamation and they intend to maintain their 99.98 match rate between the transmitted votes and the physical ER copies. 

“It is relevant for the public to know that 99.98 percent of the time there is no dagdag bawas (vote padding and shaving). We want to be able to say that 99.98 percent of all of the ERs encoded matched. For us to do that we have to finish all the ERs that come here,” she said. 

If they detect irregularities, Villanueva said they would be the first to report it.

Aside from the technical aspect, Villanueva stressed they will complete the verifying of the ERs.

“Because our volunteers worked hard to retrieve those ERs from the polling precincts,” she said. 

Some volunteers had to endure 12 hours of duty of poll watching. Some of them had to cross bodies of water and even ride horses in order to retrieve the ERs and send them to the PPCRV Command Center on UN Avenue in Manila.

“And that is why all the ERs are sacred to us,” she added. 

As much as possible, Villanueva said they would want to do better than the last election. 

As of 3 p.m., the PPCRV’s unofficial and partial results showed former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla dislodged from the 10th place and replaced by reelectionist Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

Votes from the 86,227 clustered precincts or 98.5 percent of the total number of 87,540 clustered precincts, including the overseas absentee voting (OAV), showed Pimentel only had a 791 vote lead over Revilla. – Evelyn Macairan, Jess Diaz, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Rhodina Villanueva

2019 MIDTERM ELECTIONS COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS
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