Duterte lawyer wants Santiago to concede to fast-track proclamation
A lawyer of presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte wants Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago to concede defeat in the presidential race, as he believes this will fast-track Duterte’s proclamation as the expected winner.
Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s incoming Palace spokesperson, urged Santiago’s running mate, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., to convince her to admit defeat if he wanted a separate canvassing for the votes for Vice President. Marcos is locked in a tight race with Rep. Leni Robredo.
Panelo also raised the specter of a possible constitutional crisis if the proclamation of a new President would be delayed because of questions that may be raised about the votes in the close race for Vice President.
“We feel that if Miriam Defensor Santiago will concede, the proclamation of President-elect Duterte would be hastened because there would be no need for a canvassing. Why is there a need for a canvass if the four say ‘this is the winner?’” Panelo said at a press conference in the House of Representatives.
Presidential candidates Grace Poe, Mar Roxas and Jejomar Binay have all bowed down to Duterte as the winner of the race. Santiago is the only one who has not.
Panelo also said that while the Constitution required the canvassing, there could be a “shortcut” if all four rivals would also waive the right to be present at the canvassing. He said the Duterte camp was coordinating with the other candidates to ask them to sign such a waiver.
The votes for President and Vice President are being canvassed simultaneously by a joint congressional committee. The panel was only on its second day of tallying votes when Panelo made his proposal.
But Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, head of the Senate canvassing panel and Duterte’s party mate, said it was “immaterial” if Duterte’s rivals conceded the race to him.
Pimentel said the lawyers for the candidates, including those for the candidates for Vice President, had not raised any imagined discrepancies or issues.
“The concession of the rivals of Mayor Duterte is immaterial because even for the candidates for Vice President, we see that the counsels for those competing are all reasonable,” Pimentel told reporters.
‘It doesn’t matter’
Asked about Panelo’s wish for Santiago to concede to hasten Duterte’s proclamation, the senator said: “It’s not important and it doesn’t matter.”
He expects the canvassing committee to complete its job by Monday, and for Duterte to be proclaimed on Tuesday or Wednesday next week.
Former Election Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal also said a candidate could not be proclaimed if the remaining votes to be canvassed were more than his lead over his rival.
If Duterte is proclaimed when the number of remaining votes is bigger than his lead, it would just cause an “infirmity” in his proclamation, said Larrazabal, who is representing Binay in the canvassing.
Even if it’s generally accepted that Duterte won the race, it would be better to follow the procedure to make sure there would be no reason to question his win, he said.
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