Martin House of Representatives National Board of Canvassers Chairman and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez (3rd right) uses a bolt cutter to remove the lock on the ballot box containing election returns from Batanes during the Presidential and Vice Presidential Canvass 2022at the House of Representatives. Looking on are Senate NBOC Chairman and Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri and other members of the House. Photo by VER NOVENO

Romualdez: Canvass to be fast, accurate, transparent

May 24, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 236 views

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez vowed on Tuesday that Congress, acting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), will “uphold the integrity of the electoral process”.

Romualdez gave this guarantee even as the House of Representatives and Senate began the canvassing or the official tabulation of votes cast for the positions of president and vice president during the May 9 elections.

“As we carry out our duty as enshrined in the Constitution, rest assured that we will uphold the integrity of the electoral process. We shall ensure that the voices of our fellow Filipinos, both here and abroad, as expressed through their ballots are reflected and upheld,” Romualdez said in his preliminary remarks.

On Tuesday morning, Romualdez was officially named chairman of the House contingent of the NBOC.

Once begun, the canvassing of votes cast by eligible Filipinos will continue on a 24-hour basis until the winners of the presidential and vice presidential race are proclaimed.

The actual canvassing will take place at the plenary hall of the House of Representatives.

“As the Chairperson of the House panel, I give the assurance that the meetings before this Committee on the canvassing of votes will be characterized by accuracy, transparency, and expediency,” said Romualdez, the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) President.

That same morning, during the Joint Public Session of Congress that was led by Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, the preliminary activities of the canvassing were carried out.

This mainly covered the opening of ballot boxes containing the certificates of canvass (COCs) from the overseas absentee voting (OAV), which was held a few days ahead of the May 9 polls.

The first ballot box opened had the marking “002”. It came from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Other ballot boxes used during the OAV were opened.

“We shall now begin performing the paramount task of canvassing the votes in the 2022 national elections for the two highest elective positions in our country: the president and the vice president,” Romualdez said.

“I join our fellow citizens in praying that the sovereign will of the Filipino people shall prevail, and that our cherished right to choose the next leaders of our country is a true reflection of the vibrant democracy enjoyed by us all,” he further said.

The canvassing is the last important task of the outgoing 18th Congress.

THE House of Representatives and the Senate met in a joint session Tuesday to convene as the NBOC tasked by the Constitution to count the votes and thereafter proclaim the winners in the presidential and vice presidential elections.

The joint public session, held at the House plenary hall inside the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City, was opened and presided over by Velasco and Sotto III.

In his opening remarks, Velasco said that members of Congress have gathered together “to ensure that the will of the people in choosing the two highest officials of our country is respected.”

“Let democracy reign in our country! Let the voice of the people be heard,” Velasco declared.

The House chief likewise assured that Congress would faithfully perform its “sacred” duty to canvass the votes and thereafter proclaim the President-elect and Vice President-elect.

“Ito po ay ang iniatang na sagradong tungkulin ng ating Konstitusyon—ang magbantay at siguruhin ang wastong pagbilang ng mga boto para sa susunod na mamumuno ng ating bansa,” the Speaker stressed.

He added: “Sa isang demokratikong bansa, ang boses ng mamamayan ang siyang masusunod. Ang tanging layunin natin ay pagkakaroon ng isang tapat, kapani-paniwala, at mapayapang eleksyon kung saan ang pagkabanal at pagkalihim ng mga balota ay napapangalagaan, at ang kagustuhan at kapasyahan ng mga bumoto ay hindi pinahina o nabigo, bagkus ang siyang mananaig.”

After determining the presence of a quorum in both chambers, the House and the Senate adopted the rules of the joint public session and immediately proceeded with the creation of a Joint Congressional Committee that would do the actual count of votes for President and Vice President.

Velasco designated 11 House lawmakers as regular and alternate members of the Joint Committee, including House contingent chairperson, Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez.

Aside from Romualdez, other regular members are Reps. Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, Kristine Singson-Meehan, Sharon Garin, Manuel Jose “Mannix” Dalipe, and Juliet Marie De Leon-Ferrer.

The alternate members are Reps. Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc, John Ty Pimentel, Alfredo Garbin Jr., and Stella Luz Quimbo.

On the part of the Senate, Sotto appointed as regular members Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Nancy Binay, Franklin Drilon, Imee Marcos, Grace Poe, Ralph Recto, and Pia Cayetano, with Zubiri as chairperson of the Senate contingent.

Sotto also designated Senators Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Risa Hontiveros, Koko Pimentel, and Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa as alternate members.

Under the rules, the Joint Committee shall decide on all questions and issues raised involving the Certificates of Canvass by a majority of vote of its members, each panel voting separately.

In case the two panels disagree, the decision of the chairperson shall prevail. In case of a deadlock, the matter shall be resolved by the Speaker and the Senate President.

Once the canvassing is completed, the joint committee report shall be approved and signed by a majority of the members of the Joint Committee.

The report shall be approved and signed by a majority of the members of the Joint Committee. Each panel will vote separately.

After which, the report shall be submitted to the joint public session for consideration and approval. A majority of senators and House members, voting separately, shall approve the report and adopt the resolution of both chambers proclaiming the duly elected President and Vice President.

Upon adoption of the resolution of both houses, the Speaker and the Senate President shall proclaim the President-elect and the Vice President-elect.

Sotto informed the body that the first certificate of canvass (COC) received electronically by the consolidated canvassing system was from San Juan City on May 9, 2022 at 10:28 p.m.; the first ballot box containing a COC was from Malabon City delivered on May 10 at 6:56 p.m. and the first overseas absentee voting COC was from the Philippine Embassy in Cambodia delivered May 11, 6:59 am.

He said the Senate so far received a total of 157 COCs and 16 more are expected to arrive in the coming days. “The primordial task of Congress is to ensure that the sovereign will of the people expressed through the ballot is respected and upheld. Thus, Congress shall determine the authenticity and due execution of the certificates of canvass submitted to it in accordance with applicable laws in an orderly and transparent manner,” Sotto said. With Camille P. Balagtas