Another snag in canvassing: Votes for Taguig-Pateros found in separate ballot boxes
MANILA, Philippines — The procedures during the canvassing of votes for the presidential and vice presidential elections hit another problem after the votes for Taguig and Pateros areas were transmitted jointly, while their Certificates of Canvass (COCs) were contained in separate ballot boxes.
During the Congress’ canvassing on Wednesday, House of Representatives Majority Floor Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez ordered the opening of the Taguig and Pateros ballot boxes which will be compared to the electronically-transmitted results.
However, the canvassing board was not able to move on as the COCs of Taguig and Pateros were contained in separate ballot boxes, despite it being transmitted jointly to Congress.
This led Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri to ask why this happened, and how the COCs can be verified as accurate.
“Your honors, included in the ballot boxes if I’m not mistaken, just correct me if I’m wrong, you have the COCs for Taguig and COCs for Pateros, so both are there? If that’s the case we would also ask for the electronic copy of both so that we can canvass both immediately,” Zubiri said.
“The situation is we have COCs for the City of Taguig and the municipality of Pateros, but ‘yong electronically-sent documents to us is a combination of Taguig and Pateros. How do we now verify the authenticity of the documents if it is two different documents?” he asked.
According to an information technology expert present in the plenary, the electronically-transmitted votes does not differentiate the votes from Taguig and Pateros.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Deputy Executive Director for Administration Helen Aguila Flores explained that the votes may have been transmitted jointly because Taguig and Pateros are being counted as a single district.
“Your honor, from my knowledge Taguig-Pateros is a district, and it is canvassed by a District Board of Canvassers. But please allow me, give me a few minutes to verify with our operations, from what I know it is canvassed by a District Board of Canvassers,” Flores said.
After a long wait, Zubiri confirmed that adding the separate COCs from Taguig and Pateros shows the same result for the electronically-transmitted Taguig-Pateros votes. However, he said that they would need a Comelec official from the areas to attest to the authenticity of the documents.
“When we looked at the other documents that we have, when you combine the two votes for Taguig and Pateros, it is equal or you count the votes of Taguig and Pateros and combine them, it is the same numbers as the source documents that we have now, the COCs,” Zubiri said.
“But it is labeled as Pateros, to authenticate the document that it is Taguig and Pateros, we now ask the Comelec to get in touch with their city officer, the city election officer to come online and take their oath, and put on record that the document is a combination of Taguig and Pateros so that we may proceed to canvass the two areas,” he added.
This is not the first problem encountered by Congress during the canvassing of votes, which started off generally quick and error-free. Earlier, four more COCs for Mandaluyong City, Sulu province, the City of Manila, and Cagayan de Oro were missing from their sealed ballot boxes.
This makes seven areas without COCs inside ballot boxes, including Tuesday’s Surigao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, and Pampanga.
The incidents have irked Zubiri, who asked why a simple task is being left unchecked by Comelec.
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