Vote canvass for senators halfway done — Comelec

BW FILE PHOTO

THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) has processed about 50% of the total certificates of canvass on the third day of tallying for Senate and party-list positions for this year’s elections, according to an election official.

As of Thursday noon, Comelec had validated 82 of 173 certificates of canvass, which contain 327 election results, acting Comelec spokesman John Rex C. Laudiangco told a news briefing.

The Comelec full court as the National Board of Canvassers is on its third day of validating precinct results that will be included in the official results for the Senate and party-list race. It expects to proclaim the winning senators this week.

The initial voter turnout was estimated at 81% or about 54 million voters out 67 million who registered.

Comelec was on the second day of its random manual audit, in which it selects precincts to verify if vote-counting machines had counted votes correctly.

As of Thursday noon, 202 ballot boxes had been retrieved out of 757 samples of randomly selected clustered precincts, Helen Maureen V. Grado, a policy consultant at watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Elections, told a separate news briefing.

The election body is working with the watchdog and Philippine Statistics Authority for the verification process, she added.

“This process checks for overvoting or undervoting during the elections. Some people may vote for fewer than 12 senators or vote for more than the required number of positions to vote for,” she said.

Meanwhile, the bulk of the certificates and returns for the canvassing of presidential and vice-presidential votes is expected to arrive at the Senate on May 22, Senate Sergeant at Arms Rene C. Samonte said in a statement on Wednesday night.

“The official canvass will start the following day, May 24, as initially agreed by the Senate president and the Speaker,” he said.

The Senate had sought the help of the police and Armed Forces in transporting the bulk of the election returns and certificates of canvass by May 23,  he added. All other returns and certificates will be delivered to the House of Representatives in batches.

As of Thursday morning, 11 certificates and returns had arrived at the Senate. The chamber took delivery of local certificates and returns from the provinces of Guimaras, Ifugao and Zambales and the cities of Navotas and Taguig. Overseas absentee voting certificates from Jordan, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam and Austria also arrived.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III has said there should be 173 ballot boxes in total, including certificates of canvass from overseas. They expect to proclaim the winners by May 27 or 28.

Under the 1987 Constitution, both houses of Congress will hold a joint public session to canvass the votes for president and vice-president and proclaim the winners.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte has urged Comelec to look into hundreds of vote-counting machines that malfunctioned on election day and dispel doubts about the integrity of results. Voting machine glitches on Monday caused long queues at voting centers.

“I hope that Comelec will also find time to investigate just to disabuse the minds of those who think cheating occurred,” he said at a taped meeting aired on Thursday night. — John Victor D. Ordoñez and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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