Congress sets canvass as VP race hangs
The Senate and the House of Representatives will hold a joint session this week to begin the formal canvassing of votes for president and vice president, a process that is expected to be closely watched given the tight race for the vice presidency.
The joint session will be held on May 24, when both chambers will meet and form the national board of canvassers (NBOC).
The actual canvassing of votes will begin on May 25 and will be held at the Batasang Pambansa, according to Senate Secretary Oscar Yabes.
During the joint session on Tuesday, both chambers are expected to adopt the rules and create the panels for the joint canvassing committee.
The partial unofficial count of the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) citizens’ arm, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), showed Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte with a huge lead over his rivals.
While it is a clear victory for Duterte, a close race remains for the vice presidency. Based on the final unofficial count, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo pulled ahead of Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, with a lead of more than 200,000 votes.
But since the unofficial count did not include 100 percent of the precincts, the race is still too close to call.
The Marcos camp has complained of alleged irregularities and has asked the Comelec to allow its information technology experts to audit the transparency server and central server that were used in the polls.
Its misgivings centered on the alteration in the script in the transparency server, which Comelec officials said only resulted in a “cosmetic” change as it only changed the spelling of certain candidates’ names.
But the Marcos camp said that if a Smartmatic technician could introduce a cosmetic change, what assurance did they have that the same person did not introduce other substantial alterations to the script that could affect the election results.
The Robredo camp, on the other hand, is confident that she won the race.
The Senate would have a session on Monday to approve bills on third reading before both chambers hold their joint session.
Meanwhile, Marcos’ campaign adviser Jonathan de la Cruz said in a statement that all information technology experts and representatives of winning candidates were welcome to join the system audit of the Comelec’s servers that their camp had asked for.
“We would like to urge all IT experts to go there (Comelec), to have themselves accredited and take a look and see for themselves what happened,” De la Cruz said.
He said the credibility of the Senate was at stake, and the audit was intended to search for the truth.
According to De la Cruz, the system audit that the Marcos camp wants is not directed at a particular candidate but is meant to ensure the integrity of the polls.
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