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Senate leaders: No issue with Imee Marcos being on canvassing panel

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Senate leaders: No issue with Imee Marcos being on canvassing panel
Members of Congress begin canvassing votes for president and for vice president on May 24, 2022.
Philstar.com / Xave Gregorio

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Tuesday that they do not see any issues with Sen. Imee Marcos, brother of presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., sitting in the joint congressional panel that will canvass votes for president and for vice president.

"What can a relative do? ‘Di naman humahawak ng COC (certificates of canvass) iyon basta-basta o hindi naman taga-basa, kundi kasama sa committee na ika nga eh ino-observe ang bilangan," Sotto told reporters at a press conference on the sidelines of Congress’ joint session for the canvassing of votes.

(What can a relative do? They don’t just hold or read the COC, but are just part of the committee that would just observe the counting.)

Congress has historically been dominated by political clans and it is not uncommon for relatives to be seatmates at the House of Representatives and at the Senate.

Rules adopted by Congress to canvass the votes for president and vice president provide that the joint panel will canvass all electronically transmitted COCs and all manually counted and physically delivered COCs.

Their work includes comparing the physical certificates of canvass with digital COCs to see if they match in figures and signatures.

For Drilon, Sen. Marcos being in the panel that may eventually release a report officially declaring her brother the winner in the race to Malacañang is "not a valid concern." Apart from being on the canvassing panel, Sen. Marcos is chair of the Senate committee on electoral reforms.

"You can raise the same concern on Senate President Tito Sotto. You can raise the same concern on Sen. Kiko Pangilinan," Drilon said, as the two senators he referred to both ran for vice president but are participating in the canvassing process.

Besides, Drilon said, Congress, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, cannot act on questions regarding the validity of votes which are reserved for the Presidential Electoral Tribunal to rule on.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have convened in a joint session to canvass votes for president and vice president, which their leaders target to finish by Wednesday at the earliest.

Bongbong 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.

2022 ELECTIONS

FRANKLIN DRILON

IMEE MARCOS

TITO SOTTO

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