Sotto warns of ‘constitutional crisis’ if SC halts congressional canvass

Sotto warns of âconstitutional crisisâ if SC halts congressional canvass
Senate President Vicente Sotto III (right) leads the resumption of session Monday, May 17, 2021, after a Lenten break.
Joseph Vidal / Senate PRIB, file

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III warned Thursday that the country could be plunged into a “constitutional crisis” if the Supreme Court orders Congress to stop canvassing votes for president and vice president as asked for in petitions against presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

“If that happens, we will be courting a constitutional crisis from the fact that Congress can no longer meet after June 3rd,” Sotto said in a text message shared to reporters. “Who will then conduct the canvass as mandated by the Constitution?”

Article VII, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution directs Congress to canvass the votes for president and vice president and then proceed to proclaim winners for the respective elective posts.

Congress will be convening in a joint session beginning May 24 for the canvassing of votes, with the goal of proclaiming a president-elect and a vice-president elect by May 27. Based on the partial, unofficial count, Marcos and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, are slated to occupy these positions.

But if the SC ends up granting the prayer of the petitioners against Marcos — which separately seek the nullification of his candidacy and his disqualification from the presidential race — for it to order a halt to canvassing, the 18th Congress may end on June 30 without having proclaimed anyone as president or vice president.

“So, no president or vice president by June 30? What do they propose? Holdover? Tell me if that is not a crisis!” Sotto said.

The legal challenges against Marcos before the SC stems from petitions previously filed before the Commission on Elections seeking to cancel his certificate of candidacy or disqualify him from the presidential race due to his previous conviction for his failure to file income tax returns.

Contrary to the claims of petitioners, the Comelec said Marcos is not perpetually barred from office as he was not convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude nor given jail time of more than 18 months. — Xave Gregorio with a report from Angelica Y. Yang





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