Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (L) and House Speaker Prospero Nograles (R) raise the hands of vice-president elect Jejomar Binay (2nd L) and president-elect Benigno Aquino III (2nd R) during the proclamation of the winning presidential and vice-presidential candidates at the Batasan Pambansa plenary hall in Quezon City, June 9, 2010. (Photo by Maria Althea Teves, abs-cbNEWS.com/Newsbreak)
MANILA, Philippines – After over a week of wrangling over “null votes” and other alleged irregularities in the conduct of the May 10 elections, the joint session of Congress on Wednesday , June 9, finally convened to proclaim Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino IIIand Jejomar "Jojo" Binayas president-elect and vice-president-elect, respectively.
The Senate and the House of Representatives convened the joint session at 2:35 pm on June 9 in order to take up the report of the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC).
Shortly after session started, Senator Jinggoy Estrada read a statement from his father, former President Joseph Estrada, congratulating Aquino.
Afterwards, Senate majority floor leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate minority floor leader Aquilino Pimentel sponsored the report of the Joint Committee on the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Canvass for the May 10, 2010 elections on behalf of the Senate. House majority floor leader Arthur Defensor and deputy majority floor leader Neptali Gonzales II sponsored the report on behalf of the House contingent.
With no objections to the approval of the canvassing committee report, it was approved by the joint session of Congress at 3:38 pm.
After the committee report and resolution were approved, Congress shortly suspended session to allow Aquino and Binay to join the plenary for their proclamation.
In his sponsorship speech, Zubiri noted results of the canvass which showed that Aquino, garnered a total of 15,208,678 votes
with a lead of 5,720,841 over the second placer Estrada.
“On the other hand, Jejomar Cabauatan Binay obtained the highest number of votes for Vice-President with 14,645,574 votes with a lead of 727,084 votes over his closest opponent,” Zubiri said.
“After the historic automated elections, which awed, bewildered, amused and even confused both the electorate and the candidates, with the speed of counting of votes and transmitting the results by the machine we know now as the PCOS or Precinct Count Optical Scan machines, Congress will now give its seal of approval, a Constitutional requirement, to the winning Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates,” Zubiri added in his sponsorship speech.
Fastest canvassing in history
Done 4 weeks after the May 10 polls, the proclamation of winners was the quickest in the history of the Philippines post-1986. The actual canvassing took only 8 days, beginning on May 27 when the first ballot box—for absentee voters from the Kingdom of Laos—was opened.
The last certificate of canvass (COC), from Lanao del Sur, was canvassed on Tuesday, June 8.
Aquino and Binay will take their respective oaths of office on June 30, the day the terms of office of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Vice-President Noli de Castro end.
In the 2004 presidential elections, President Arroyo was proclaimed before dawn of June 23 or just a week before the Office of the President was vacated. It was a tight race between Arroyo who led her closest rival, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., by around 1 million votes.
A year later, the "Hello, Garci" controversy erupted with Arroyo accused of cheating to win the elections. The scandal earned its moniker, “Hello, Garci,” from a wiretapped phone conversation between President Arroyo and then Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, where she asked about her lead in the election tally.
Arroyo refused to admit that the allegedly wiretapped conversation was authentic but apologized nonetheless for talking on the phone with a Comelec official. She said it was a "lapse of judgment."
Final Congressional Tally
Aquino's big margin
Aquino is the son of the late President Corazon Aquino, who led the restoration of democracy in the Philippines in 1986. Her death in August 2009 led to calls for her only son, an incumbent senator, to run for president.
Owing largely to the "Cory Magic," Aquino emerged victorious over 8 other candidates.
It was the vice-presidential race that was tight. Binay defeated Aquino's running mate, Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, by a slim margin of 720,000 votes.
It's a double whammy for Roxas, the original Liberal Party standard-bearer. He slid down to the vice-presidential race to give way to Aquino's candidacy.
Roxas is mulling an election protest. His lawyers claimed "funny trends" in the results of the May polls, particularly the high number of "null votes" supposedly in the bailiwicks of Roxas. There were 2.6 million null votes, 3 times more than the lead of Binay.
Roxas lawyers moved to defer the canvassing of several provinces with high number of null votes but Congress, sitting as the NBOC, voted to deny it.
In response, the Binay camp said the high number of "null votes" was part of the birth pains of automated elections. They called for a review of the automated election system to make sure this will be addressed in the next elections. But they maintained that there was no proof that the null votes were votes for Roxas.
Zubiri said the small ovals could have been the reason for the big number of null votes. There could be at least 3 reasons for null votes: 1) the voters didn't vote for the position; 2) the voters voted for more than 2 candidates for vice-president; and, 3) they under-shaded or over-shaded the oval that the machine could not recognize them.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he expects the next elections would be automated again, and it would be smoother than this year.
Earlier, there were fears that canvassing will also be delayed because several congressmen have raised issues against the automated polls. But the NBOC ruled that it was not the proper venue for election protests.
"It was a cooperative work between the Speaker and I. The Speaker and I understood each other, tried as best as possible to be even-handed [and] fair, rendering justice to whoever is entitled to it or needs it. No one was a friend or foe," said Enrile.
"We also allowed everybody to say his piece, whether you are a lawyer or a member of the panel. We allowed you to speak and take reasonable time. The moment we see that what you are saying is not repetitious and it’s not meant to delay, we are very lenient in allowing each and everyone to say their piece and ask anything they want," added House Speaker Prospero Nograles.
The Liberal Party tandem of Aquino and Roxas was rocked by issues that a faction of Aquino's relatives junked Roxas to support the candidacy of Binay.
Binay and the Cojuangcos--Aquino's maternal family--have long been political allies. Binay was the first Officer-in-Charge (OIC)-mayor appointed by President Aquino after the 1986 People Power Revolution. He and his family have not left Makati city hall since.
Makati was also the regular venue of anti-President Arroyo protests, some of which were led by the late Mrs. Aquino.
While the family denies it, Aquino-Roxas supporter Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado earlier told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak that the camp of former President Corazon Aquino's younger brother, Jose "Peping" Cojuangco Jr., campaigned for Binay.
Mercado is a professor at the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City and founder of the Mindanao Leaders Coalition or Kusug Mindanaw.
"Ang dala ng mga Cojuangco ay Noy-Bi, not Noy-Mar (The Cojuangcos are carrying Noynoy-Binay, not Noynoy-Mar). They all came here [in Mindanao]. Tingting Cojuangco was here with Jun Simon," Mercado said in a previous phone interview.
"Of course, they still have their contacts during the time of Cory," Mercado added.
Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco is Noynoy’s aunt. She is the wife of Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., the younger brother of Mrs. Aquino, whose alleged deals and influence-peddling during her administration led a columnist to coin the word Kamag-anak Inc. (Relatives Incorporated).
Simon, on the other hand, is a member of Peping’s Council on Philippine Affairs (COPA). He was appointed by President Aquino as OIC Mayor of Quezon City in 1986.
For his part, Binay said he was not surprised that some relatives of Noynoy Aquino campaigned for him. – abs-cbnNEWS.com/ Newsbreak