Final tally of votes for president, VP seen tonight

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Members of the House of Representatives check a ballot box containing Certificates of Canvass and Election Returns from Davao del Sur at the start of the Joint Session of Congress to canvass votes for president and vice president at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Wednesday. Voltaire Domingo, NPPA

MANILA - The leaders of the joint canvassing committee of Congress sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) believe the panel can wrap up work as early as Friday evening, setting the stage for a proclamation next week.

"Kahapon, mas marami kaming na-take up. Barring any unforeseen skirmishes, yan palagay ko, kayang-kaya namin matapos ngayon, dahil ilan na lang natitira, 52 na lang eh," House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said.

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, co-chair of the panel, said the joint session will reconvene after the canvassing is finished.

"Then we sponsor the report, the joint session approves the report, the joint session issues the resolution of proclamation for the winners. Then that's it. We have a president-elect and a vice president-elect. If we finish today, then proclamation would be Monday," he said.

According to Pimentel, they are prepared to work overtime tonight if only a few certificates of canvass (COCs) are left. He said they have ruled out canvassing on the weekend.

"Although we expect to stay until 10 p.m., if necessary, we should be willing to stay up to 12 midnight if, for example, only a few more COCs are left. But if a substantial number is left, then we can defer this to Monday," he said.

Pimentel and Gonzales said they have already summoned the provincial boards of canvassers that prepared problematic COCs to explain in today's session.

"We already sent word to the members of the provincial board of canvassers of the potential problem areas to be present today. Once the concerned COC is tackled and there's a request for information coming from them, they are already here," Pimentel explained.

Gonzales said they will also be vetting the manually prepared COCs.

He explained that once the tally is done, they will prepare the committee report which will be basis for the proclamation. That report will be sent to the plenary for approval. The secretariat can work on the report over the weekend, he said.

Gonzales said the leaders of Congress have already invited Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to the proclamation.

"What I know is the Speaker and the Senate President have extended their invitation for the physical presence of Mayor Duterte," he said.

He, however, stressed that Duterte's presence is not required.

"Though siyempre, for posterity, mas maganda nakikitang tinataas ang kamay ng nanalo," he admitted.

Pimentel, an ally of Duterte, said he himself has not yet extended an invitation to the mayor, having been busy with the canvassing of votes.

"If we can finish tonight, we have a clear winner for our count, then we have a weekend to convince the indicated winner to come and attend his or her proclamation," he said.

Gonzales, meanwhile, downplayed the repeated manifestations of the camp of vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

READ: Marcos camp questions 3.2M VP 'undervote'

"Titingnan namin kung anong problema. At this point, mas mahirap mag-speculate," he said. "Undervote, maraming dahilan, and it happens kahit sa local... Nangangahulugan ba na may dayaan? Hindi."

Pimentel shared the same sentiments on the matter of undervotes.

Gonzales, however, believes the manifestations maybe used in a possible electoral protest.

Pimentel added that candidates who are not happy with the final results can always file an electoral protest.

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