MANILA, Philippines - Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III could be officially declared the next Philippine president on Monday, four weeks after his landslide win in the May 10 polls, with lawmakers set to soon complete their canvass of votes.
Aquino, only son of the country's revered democracy icon, Cory Aquino, has an insurmountable lead of more than 5 million votes over his nearest rival, former President Joseph Estrada, based on unofficial tallies from the election commission.
The deadline for Congress to declare the winners in the presidential and vice-presidential elections is June 30.
"It's safe to say that we'll be able to proclaim by Monday," Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate majority floor leader and a close ally of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, told reporters.
"I can't make promises, but our best effort is to complete our job by Thursday evening and proclaim winners next week," said Zubiri.
"We're not trying to railroad the process. We've deferred tallies from provinces and cities which submitted incomplete documents, or those with discrepancies. But, we'll tabulate them as soon as election officials give us valid explanations."
On the fifth day of canvassing, Congress, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, Aquino and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) vice-presidential candidate Jejomar Binay kept their leads in the presidential and vice-presidential polls, respectively.
Aquino had 11,460,226 votes, while Estrada had 7,391,416 votes.
In the vice-presidential election, Binay had 10,916,224 votes, while LP vice-presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II had 10,745,422 votes.
As of 9:13 pm of June 2, a total of 214 Certificates of Canvass (COCs) had been opened, 7 COCs had been deferred, and 207 had been canvassed.
Final tally for Day 5 of canvassing, as of 9:13 pm, June 2, 2010
||# of votes
||# of Votes
|De los Reyes
Day 5: Only 18 ballot boxes
On Tuesday, Aquino was also ahead with 9,564,943 votes compared to Estrada’s 5,927,990 votes, with a total 203 COCs opened, 189 of which had been counted.
Compared to Tuesday's work of tabulating votes from 54 COCs, Congress was only able to open 18 ballot boxes on Wednesday.
Zubiri said canvassing on Wednesday was “not as productive as yesterday.”
Some of the boxes opened were from provinces whose COCs had been deferred for not being able to electronically transmit results to the congressional server, and for not being able to complete the documents that must be contained in the ballot boxes received by the Senate.
The provincial board of canvassers (PBoC) chairs were asked to explain why certain mishaps happened, which slowed the pace of canvassing.
Failed transmission explained
Before the deferred COCs from Tuesday's canvassing were counted, the chairs of the provincial board of canvassers of 14 provinces summoned by Congress to appear on Wednesday explained why the Congress server was not able to receive the COCs from their areas, and why other requirements were not present in the ballot box.
The board chairs from Ilocos Sur, Kalinga, Aurora, Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur all gave the same reason: that they were able to transmit the provincial COCs electronically to all other servers except for the server of Congress.
The PBoC chair of Bukidnon, however, could not explain why the Congressional server was not able to receive the electronically transmitted results. He added that a certain Agent 85 of the National Support Center of the Comelec confirmed receipt of their electronic transmission, which was reconfirmed by a certain Agent 18. They were even congratulated for being the first to transmit in Region 10.
For the province of Cagayan de Oro, the chair said that they were able to completely electronically transmit the results.
The chair of the PBoC of Camarines Norte maintained that they were able to transmit the results properly. The CD, where data from the flash cards were stored, was uploaded in Congress' server and was printed.
For the province of Zambales, canvassing was deferred on Tuesday because there was no COC for the vice presidential position contained in the ballot box submitted to the Senate. The PBoC chair maintained they put it in the ballot box.
The San Juan City chair said every one was present in their office on the day they transmitted the results to the different servers. There was an LCD projector seen by everyone saying that they had successfully transmitted the results to all servers. He proposed to get a copy of the CD intended for the city board of canvassers in his office.
The 2 ballot boxes from Oriental Mindoro were deferred on Tuesday because the manual provincial COCs were not in the ballot boxes. Congress decided to check the electronic copy of the COC in the congressional server.
Zubiri noted they could be sanctioned for not putting the required documents in the ballot boxes.
The PBoC chairs from Sultan Kudarat, Pampanga, and Biliran were absent. Canvassing was deferred for those provinces until the chairs could appear before Congress.
By Tuesday, lawmakers had confirmed 203 vote tallies out of a total of 278 from provinces, cities, embassies and consulates.
In the vice presidential race, Jejomar Binay, Estrada's running mate and long-time mayor of Manila's financial district, leads Manuel Roxas, Aquino's running mate.
The Comelec's unofficial tally showed, with more than 90 percent of votes counted, Binay led Roxas by about 800,000 votes.
Roxas' lawyers have claimed he was cheated because up to 2.6 million votes were nullified due to ambiguous marks on ballots.
Binay's lawyers said that should not delay the proclamation of vice-president, and said Roxas could file an election protest before the Supreme Court.
The Congress will devote Friday's sitting to pending bills, including a Freedom of Information Act to promote transparency in government deals, before its term ends on June 30.