Missing COCs at canvassing leaves Zubiri frustrated

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Missing COCs at canvassing leaves Zubiri frustrated
Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri, who co-chairs the joint panel tasked to canvass votes for president and vice president, reminds Commission on Elections officials the importance of the process being undertaken by both chambers of the legislature.
Philstar.com / EC Toledo

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri expressed frustration as the joint panel tasked by Congress to canvass votes for president and vice president discovered Wednesday that the certificates of canvass from Mandaluyong, Sulu, Manila and Cagayan de Oro were missing.

“It is such a simple duty of the BES (Board of Election Supervisor) and it’s a constitutionally mandated duty of the Comelec to deliver the provincial COCs to the Senate so that we may canvass them on time during the National Board of Canvassers and joint session of Congress. How difficult is that to do?” an exasperated Zubiri said.

Zubiri went as far as asking how it would be possible for the Commission on Appointments to confirm the appointments of Comelec chairperson Saidamen Pangarungan and Comelec commissioners George Garcia and Aimee Torrefrance-Neri when they cannot deliver COCs to Congress.

Pangarungan, Garcia and Torrefranca-Neri were supposed to face the CA on Wednesday, but the powerful body composed of lawmakers from both houses of Congress decided to defer their confirmation hearing due to the ongoing canvassing of votes for president and vice president.

In explaining why the COCs are missing, Helen Agila Flores, Comelec’s deputy executive director for administration, told lawmakers that it was “inevitable” for poll workers to have failed to include this document in the ballot boxes sent to Congress “in view of many factors … like lack of sleep.”

“We really, really beg for your kind understanding, your honors, please, regarding such omission or shortcoming on the part of our field officers who are most of the time under pressure, your honor, during the canvassing,” Flores said.

Zubiri replied that he understands, but quipped that “democracy [is] at stake” and that Congress does not want to disenfranchise any voter.

“If you look at the results, the gap is too wide, we can proceed with the canvass and disregard provinces because it will not affect ranking for number one, number two, number three. But we do not want to disenfranchise any province, or any vote of any candidate,” he said partly in Filipino.

With COCs for Mandaluyong, Sulu, Manila and Cagayan de Oro missing, the joint committee deferred the canvassing of votes from these areas while they await the arrival of the document which shows how many votes each candidate for president and vice president received.

The panel ordered Comelec officials to report virtually and produce the COCs as soon as possible as they intend to wrap up canvassing on Wednesday and proclaim winners for the presidential and vice presidential races on the same day.





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