Sotto warns of constitutional crisis if SC stops canvassing of prexy, VP votes

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III. (Bibo Nueva España/ Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Petitions asking the Supreme Court to stop Congress from canvassing votes cast for the presidential and vice-presidential races are “courting a constitutional crisis” and such pleas before the High Court will not prosper, two Senate leaders said Thursday.

“If that happens, we will be courting a constitutional crisis from the fact that Congress can no longer meet after June 3rd,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in a message to reporters when asked for his comment on the matter.

“Who will then conduct the canvass as mandated by the Consti? July 25 is a key date for Congress. So, no President or VP by June 30? What do they propose? Holdover? Tell me if that is not a crisis!” he added.

Recently, two petitions were filed before the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the Commission on Elections to dismiss the disqualification cases against presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

The petitions also asked the High Court to temporarily stop Congress from canvassing votes in favor of the presumptive president.

“The petitions will not prosper,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.

A former Justice secretary, Drilon said the Supreme Court cannot stop Congress from performing its constitutional duty.

“The Supreme Court cannot restrain or stop the Congress, acting as the National Board of Canvassers, from performing its constitutional duty of canvassing the votes for President and Vice President of the Republic, and proclaiming the winner,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who secured a fresh term in the upper chamber, echoed Drilon’s view.

“Congress is constitutionally-bound to canvass the results for the President and Vice President. Nothing prevents us from performing this duty to ensure the peaceful transfer of power,” Zubiri said in a statement.

“That is our Democracy and that is our sworn duty to the Filipino people. We only need a few days to complete this task and we commit that before June 30, we shall have our new President and Vice President. The ones elected by the sovereign will of Thirty-one Million Filipino people,” he added.

In one of the petitions, the petitioners said it is not their “desire to impede the Congress of the Philippines from performing its constitutional duty; it is rather petitioners’ desire to ensure that Congress, in performing this duty, does not end up performing it in vain.”

The two chambers of Congress are expected to convene into the National Board of Canvassers on May 24. Congress is tasked to canvass votes for president and vice-president, and to proclaim the winners.

/MUF

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