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Comelec proclaims final three senators

Villar, Ejercito, Honasan complete ‘Magic 12’

ALL’S WELL The Comelec, sitting as the national board of canvassers (NBOC), on Saturday night proclaimed the final three senatorial winners; Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito and Gringo Honasan. Video by Ryan Leagogo/INQUIRER.net

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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) went on its merry course Saturday night, proclaiming the final three senatorial winners even as criticisms and questions continued to come its way over its controversial decision to declare the victors in last Monday’s senatorial elections even before all the votes could be counted.

Five  days after the polls, the Comelec, sitting as the national board of canvassers (NBOC), on Saturday completed the lineup of winners of the 12 senatorial slots that were contested in the election, proclaiming the victory of the last three placers—Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito  and Gringo Honasan.

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The three joined the nine others—Grace Poe, Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Nancy Binay, Juan Edgardo Angara, Paulo Benigno Aquino IV, Aquilino Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV—who were proclaimed on Thursday and Friday, amid criticism that the move was premature and outright illegal as the canvass was far from completed.

The Comelec said it decided to proclaim all 12 winners in the Senate race, including 12th placer Honasan, because there were only 355,000 votes left uncanvassed.

This, Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said, was not enough to overtake Honasan’s lead of some 700,000 votes over the 13th placer, former Sen. Richard Gordon.

“It’s now statistically impossible” for Gordon to overtake Honasan, he said.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, the nominally oppositionist United Nationalist Alliance  and one of the winning senators, Pimentel, deplored the Comelec’s alleged flaunting of the law and its own rules which provide for the “completion of canvass” as the basis for proclaiming poll winners.

Repugnant to the law

On Saturday, Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) poll watchdog group joined in assailing the Comelec’s decision to carry out partial proclamations.

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“The [early] proclamation of the senatorial candidates is repugnant to the law and is therefore null and void,” Lente said in a statement, citing Section 20 of Republic Act No. 9369, or the Amended Automated Election System Law of 2007.

Section 20 provides that the certificate of canvass, which is to be considered as official election results and which will be used as the basis for the proclamation of a winning candidate, should only be produced upon completion of the canvass, the group said.

The early proclamation of Poe, Legarda, Cayetano, Escudero, Binay, Angara, Aquino, Pimentel and Trillanes was therefore “constitutionally infirm,” Lente said.

It asked the Comelec to nullify the proclamation of the nine candidates and “wait for the completion of the transmission and canvassing of the votes before making any official proclamation.”

Repeat proclamation

Macalintal on Saturday said the Comelec would have to proclaim again the nine senatorial winners earlier proclaimed to make them legitimate members of the Senate.

He said the Comelec should also print out new certificates of proclamation showing the number of votes that the winners received.

“I would recommend that they should come out with new certificates of proclamation, showing the number of votes obtained by the candidates in order to legitimize and legalize the entire process,” Macalintal said.

“They should really repeat the proclamation while those who got their certificates of proclamation should return them and ask for new ones,” he said.

Pimentel, who continued to question the early proclamation of the senatorial winners as improper even after he himself was proclaimed late Friday, yesterday predicted that the NBOC would issue another proclamation document, “this time listing the 12 winning candidates by rank with number of votes.”

Bad precedent

He said the reason for his objections to the early proclamation was that he did not want it to become a precedent for future political exercises as it sets a very bad example for local boards of canvassers.

The Comelec on Friday explained that the early proclamations were based on the “grouped canvass reports,” which were produced by the canvassing and consolidation system of the different provincial and city boards of canvassers.

The grouped canvass reports were resorted to after the CNBOC’s tally of the senatorial contest was held up because of delays down the line—provincial and city boards of canvassers and municipalities and precincts—in submitting election results and certificates of canvas.

To get around this logjam, the Comelec issued a resolution on May 16 allowing the use of grouped canvass reports for the proclamation of winners of the senatorial race.

But Macalintal said that even if the Comelec had issued a resolution on May 16 allowing grouped canvass reports to be the basis of proclamations in the senatorial race, under the law, Comelec resolutions take effect only seven days after their publication. With a report from Norman Bordadora

 First posted 12:11 am | Sunday, May 19th, 2013

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TAGS: 2013 elections, Comelec, Cynthia Villar, Election Highlights, election video, Gringo Honasan, JV Ejercito, Philippine Senate
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