Koko Pimentel slams early Comelec proclamation of senators-elect

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Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The anti-election fraud campaigner on President Benigno Aquino’s senatorial ticket has questioned the propriety of the Commission on Elections’ early proclamation of six senators-elect, five of them administration candidates, calling it “premature” and “wrong.”

Re-electionist Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said there was no doubt that the six proclaimed senators-elect already had secured their seats in the Senate but, he added, the National Board of Canvassers should have acted strictly “in accordance with the law and procedure.”

“The rule is partial proclamation should be done only if the total uncanvassed votes would theoretically no longer affect the results,” Pimentel tweeted on Thursday, a few hours before the Comelec proclaimed the top six vote getters—including five of his teammates in the administration coalition.

“Yes, that is the doctrine! That is the rule based on logic, common sense and fairness,” he told the Inquirer on Friday. He was asked  if the norm regarding uncanvassed votes was the substance of his argument against the proclamation on Thursday night.

Told of election lawyer Romulo Macalintal’s position that those who received their certificates of proclamation should return them, Pimentel said, “I’m not concerned with what the others should do.”

“What’s important is that the NBOC should act strictly in accordance with law and procedure so that future NBOCs will not cite their actions today as precedent,” Pimentel added.

Macalintal is the legal counsel of re-electionist Senator Gregorio Honasan of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance. As of 5:30 p.m. on Thursday before the proclamation of top six candidates, Honasan was 12th in the official Comelec tally with 4.667 million votes.

The Comelec on Thursday night proclaimed the victory of the top six senatorial candidates—Grace Poe; re-electionists Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano and Francis Escudero; Nancy Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance; and Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara.

Apart from Binay, who did not show up for the proclamation, all those proclaimed were Pimentel’s fellow administration candidates in President Benigno Aquino’s Team PNoy coalition.

They were proclaimed even though only 72 of the 304 certificates of canvass had been officially tabulated by the NBOC at the Philippine International Convention Center. The 72 COCs represented just about 13 million votes out of the 52 million registered voters.

Reacting to tweets from news organizations covering the Comelec’s canvassing of votes, Pimentel expressed reservation  about the Comelec’s decision to proclaim six candidates in the wake of transmission glitches that drastically slowed down the official canvass.

“Proclaim winners at six-million-vote level? With still 30 million votes uncanvassed? Where is the logic in the early partial proclamation? Why rush?” Pimentel tweeted.

“This is simply wrong!” went another one of his tweets regarding the early proclamation.

Reacting to former Election Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal’s tweet that the winners were proclaimed in alphabetical order without mentioning their vote tallies and their ranking, Pimentel tweeted, “Aren’t you glad you are not a member of the NBOC?”

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