MANILA — The camps of Vice President Leni Robredo and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno on Tuesday made no objection to the canvass of votes for president in Congress.
Robredo earlier told her supporters that "we need to accept the majority’s decision", her lawyer Romulo Macalital told lawmakers who convened as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC).
"And so as not to delay the proceedings of this board, we would like to make of record our continuing manifestation that we interpose no objection to the inclusion and the canvass of the certificates of canvass for president from the various provincial and city boards of canvassers found by this honorable board to be authentic and duly executed," Macalintal added.
This was followed by a similar manifestation from the camp of Domagoso, whose lawyer Rizalina Lumbera said, "We interpose no objection in the inclusion of all the COC’s in the canvass for the position of the president."
"We recognize the integrity of the 2022 national and local elections," she added.
The manifestations are expected to expedite the official count of votes and proclamation of the next president-elect and vice-president-elect. Usually, the canvass proceedings are prolonged over questions raised by candidates’ counsels.
Unofficial tallies show Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. leading the presidential race with 16 millions voters over Robredo, who had sought to prevent his family's return to power after the overthrow of his father and namesake in the 1986 EDSA Revolution.
Marcos Jr. and Robredo were also rivals in the 2016 vice presidential race.
Marcos's legal counsel and incoming executive secretary Vic Rodriguez told the NBOC their camp "join in the manifestation" of Macalintal, who he called "distinguished colleague and one of the leading election law practitioners."
"Likewise, we would like to recognize and thank the patriotism exhibited by Vice President Leni Robredo for expressly recognizing the integrity and the result of the recently concluded general elections," Rodriguez continued.
The chairmen of the joint canvassing committee also welcomed the development.
"At least now we can let the healing begin and we can set aside politics," Senate Majority Leader and canvassing panel chair Miguel Zubiri said as Rodriguez and Macalintal shook hands.
"Indeed the theme of the Uniteam begins to pervade in the country, the healing has begun," House Majority Leader and canvassing panel chair Martin Romualdez added.
Uniteam refers to the campaign team of Marcos and his running mate, presumptive vice president Sara Duterte-Carpio.
After receiving all the certificates of canvass and supporting documents from the joint public session earlier in the day, the joint congressional canvassing committee kicked off the actual canvass of the certificates of canvass on a first come first served basis.
That means the committee began with the canvass of votes from the City of San Juan, which was the first to submit results on election night.
At the start of the committee proceedings, Zubiri noted that the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting described the May 9 polls as "generally peaceful and orderly."
The PPCRV, which is the accredited citizens' arm of the Commission on Elections, also "found no anomalies and discrepancies in the election returns that they have received and manually audited and that their matching rate ended up at 99 percent," said the senator.
"Be that as it may, we are consoled by the fact that what we are about to do today and in the coming days is the official count and is constitutionally mandated. This is the real count, the official canvassing body for the President and Vice-President of the Philippines," Zubiri added.
Romualdez meanwhile guaranteed the integrity of the canvass proceedings. He is a first cousin of Marcos Jr.
"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," he said.
The canvass continued despite petitions pending before the Supreme Court seeking to exclude Marcos Jr. from the presidential race due to the non-filing of income taxes. The Commission on Elections earlier threw out these petitions.
Petitioners had asked the Supreme Court to stop the vote canvass, but it merely ordered respondents to submit their comments.
While congressional leaders did not directly address those bids, they emphasized at the start of the joint session the importance of their work as canvassers.
"Unreasonable, unnecessary or deliberate delay in the canvass so that Congress would be prevented from proclaiming a new President and a new Vice President before noon of June 30, 2022, may just be the greatest disservice to the country," Senate President Vicente Sotto III said.