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House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II, who heads the Lower Chamber’s seven-man canvassing panel, rejected yesterday the call of vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for an early proclamation of incoming president Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte.
The House leader said they cannot give in to Marcos’ proposal, explaining that there is only one certificate of canvass (CoC) for the presidential and vice presidential candidates.
“We are talking of only one CoC here, both for president and vice president. What is good for the president has to be good for the vice president,” he told reporters.
“Never been in the history of congressional canvass in the last three presidential elections that the winning presidential and vice presidential candidates have been proclaimed separately,” Gonzales said, referring to the 1998, 2004, and 2010 presidential polls.
The Liberal Party stalwart, who was part of the NBOC in the 2010 presidential election, said Marcos’ proposal may be feasible if the joint canvassing commitee (JCC) decides to vote on Duterte’s early proclamation.
Marcos on Monday proposed the immediate proclamation of Duterte being the clear and uncontested in the presidential race.
Citing doubts on the integrity of results in vice presidential race, the son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos “humbly but firmly reiterates his strong reservation” in the canvassing of the vice presidential votes.
Gonzales even explained that their mandate as the National Board of Canvasser (NBOC) to canvass and tally the presidential and vice presidential votes and “not to act as a Board of Inquiry.”
He hinted that the canvassing may be delayed, as the pre-canvassing process, which include the approval of the rules may take four to five days.
“The approval of the rules will dictate when will the initial canvassing start,” he said. “Before it took us four to five days to finish the process. We hope we can start the canvassing immediately, the earlier the better,” Gonzales said.
Congress is eyeing to start the canvassing today, May 25. (Charissa M. Luci)
Gonzales said some 600 ballot boxes and 58 pouches containing the results of the overseas absentee voting have been transmitted to the House from the Senate.
On Tuesday early morning, a total of 129 ballot boxes with COCs and 499 ballot boxes containing election results (ERs) were delivered to the House.
According to the Legislative Security Bureau Executive Director Col. Isabelito Flores, the ballot boxes were stored in a room beside the plenary hall of Congress.
Gonzales said the membership of the JCC “can vary later on.”
“There may be changes depending on the availability of the members and the alternate members. Nothing prevents the Senate President to appoint new members,” Gonzales said.
The list of the canvassing panel has yet to be approved by Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr.
Sitting as panel members from the House majority are Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro. The alternate members are Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, Akbayan partylist Rep. Barry Gutierrez and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr.
1-BAP partylist Rep. Silvestre Bello III will also join the panel as part of the House Minority bloc. The alternate member is Minority Leader and San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo “Ronnie” Zamora.
Belmonte, who earlier relinquished the Lower Chamber’s leadership to Davao del Norte Rep.-elect Pantaleon Alvarez, earlier assured the expeditious and impartial conduct of the canvassing which is set to start on Wednesday.
“It is our bounded duty and on my part it’s something very important to me to see to it that the canvass is done objectively, expeditiously and differences in political affiliation will make no difference to me,” Belmonte, vice chairman of the Liberal Party said.
According to House Chief, the rules are basically the same as the previous rules since the last canvass was also automated and they have precedents for the procedures.
He said he expects the canvassing of the presidential votes “to be relatively easy” because all the losing candidates, except Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago have conceded.
The camp of LP’s Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo already claimed victory in the tight vice presidential race with closest rival, Marcos.