6 party-list seats still vacantBy Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The 16th Congress may start on Monday with six congressional seats set aside for party-list groups still vacant, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said on Wednesday.
Brillantes said the five unproclaimed seats might remain vacant because more than a month after the 2013 automated midterm elections, some precincts have yet to submit their election results. He said there were still around 30,000 uncanvassed votes and he had yet to ascertain the reason they have not been submitted.
Comelec has also reserved one seat for either the Senior Citizens or Abang Lingkod party-list group, both of which still have pending petitions in the Supreme Court.
“We’re not thinking about June 30, (the last day of the 15th Congress). We can still proclaim (them) afterwards,” Brillantes said in an interview.
“There is still no decision from the Supreme Court. Once there is a decision, this will be finished. We will be ready to proclaim,” he added.
The term of the 16th Congress will begin on Monday but its session will open with the President’s state of the nation address later next month.
“We are still discussing if we should proclaim before June 30 (but) we don’t see any problem if June 30 lapses. We’ve already proclaimed (the winners of) 53 party-list seats,” Brillantes said.
Brillantes said the Comelec was still trying to find out why the election returns of some precincts have not been submitted.
“I don’t know (the reason). Some election returns (ERs) are not yet here. There are still precincts that have no results. We are going over them one by one,” he said.
Brillantes said that if the bulk of these ERs arrives, they would proclaim the winners of the remaining six seats even if the Supreme Court has yet to rule on the petitions of Abang Lingkod and Senior Citizens.
“We can proclaim if many of those uncanvassed (votes) arrive. Otherwise, we are not in a hurry,” he said.