Congress permits 3 missing COCs to be delivered via Viber

Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2022 04:15 AM | Updated as of May 25 2022 10:35 AM

MANILA (UPDATE) – Three missing certificates of canvassing from Surigao Del Sur, Pampanga, and Sultan Kudarat were sent through Viber for Tuesday’s canvassing at the joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Sen. Migz Zubiri, co-chair of the National Board of Canvassers – Congress, said according to their rules this was allowed as long as the provincial elections supervisor would authenticate the results of the presidential and vice-presidential votes in their respective COCs.

All three COCs were inadvertently either mixed with other COCs or were left when the ballot boxes were sent to the Senate.

”It’s actually in the office and the election assistant Sally Bagolbol can show that, your honor, the copy,” said April Joy Balano, the Surigao Del Sur provincial elections supervisor.

”It was inadvertently mixed with COCP, the certificate of canvass and proclamation of another position, your honor, this was supposedly before the Senate but it was refused in receipt considering it was inside a wrong envelope.”

These ballot boxes were unsealed when the missing COCs were discovered.

”However, when we opened the ballot boxes, wala pong COCs sa loob ng ballot boxes,” Zubiri told Rommel Rama, Pampanga Provincial Elections Supervisor.

Rama replied: ”Right now, the staff are checking the copy if the same was inadvertently left during the time when we submitted your honor.” 

It was also the same reason cited in Sultan Kudarat’s case.

”Do you have an explanation for the joint committee as to why the physical copy of the COC was not included in the ballot box of Sultan Kudarat that we have here in the Batasan?” asked House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.

”It is our belief that we have placed the envelope containing the certificate of canvass for the province of Sultan Kudarat in the ballot box, your honor, that we have submitted to the Congress on May 15,” said April Melchor Miguel, a Sultan Kudarat elections official.

But Romualdez insisted they have opened all the ballot boxes from Sultan Kudarat including the ballot boxes containing the election returns but they could not find the COC for the province.

But when asked if they have the hard copy of the COC, Miguel said it was in their possession.

”That might suggest then that they weren’t placed in the envelopes inside the ballot boxes,” Romualdez pointed out.

All provincial election supervisors promised to physically deliver the original to the House of Representatives the following day.

"They will be coming in to testify on what really happened, why these documents were not inside the ballot boxes. What is important here is that the results were transmitted, these are mere generated penouts of the results," Comelec spokesperson John Laudiangco told ANC's Headstart Wednesday.

Zubiri and AAMBIS-OWA Party-list Rep. Sharon Garin were dismayed on the lapses made by Comelec.

”They only have one job and one job to do … which is to insert the COCs of the province of the results of the president and vice president into a ballot box and deliver it to the senate. One job and one job only. How can they be remiss of that job that is constitutionally mandated of them to do and therefore we admonish the Comelec for this non-action or non-appearance of this COCs,” said Zubiri.

Garin said: ”It’s the primary duty of the officers that we are talking to and such mistake is inexcusable, if it’s disenfranchisement of the province we are talking about, and I hope Comelec takes note of such mistake, Mr. Chair, because the sanctity of the votes of their constituents is affected by such mistake, and that is not just a simple mistake.”

”Inadvertently na hindi naisabay. That is really a remiss on the election officers. That’s why they were admonished. In fact, some were contemplating on contempt daw but they were also able to explain the circumstance of the missing COCs,” said Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin in an ambush interview.

But these elections officer produced the COCs.

”They were given 1 hour to produce and explain siguro kung hindi naproduce baka may contempt sana,” added Garbin.

The canvassing is set to resume 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

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