Postponement of new senators’ proclamation ‘unlikely’: Comelec

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MANILA — While the Commission on Elections (Comelec) respects the right of those calling to defer the proclamation of winning senatorial candidates, the ceremony will push through as scheduled next week, the commission’s spokesperson said Wednesday.

“They can make a call if they want. That’s their right, but in terms of likelihood, it’s unlikely that anything will be suspended on the basis of their unsubstantiated allegations,” poll body spokesperson James Jimenez said in an interview.

“So it’s unlikely na magkaroon ng (that there will be a) suspension on the basis of allegations alone. Apart from the fact that in this particular case, these allegations of fraud are largely speculative,” the poll body official added.

Jimenez was reacting to the statement of an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), calling for a delay in the proclamation of winners in the senatorial race due to alleged electoral fraud.

CBCP-NASSA executive secretary, Fr. Edwin Gariguez, said there should be no proclamation of winning senatorial bets until the alleged irregularities have been investigated and resolved.

“We demand for an independent and impartial investigation of the alleged fraud and manipulation of automated canvassing by the Comelec and Smartmatic,” Gariguez added.

Smartmatic has been the service provider of the automated polls in the country since 2010. It was the supplier of the vote counting machines (VCMs), which were first utilized in the 2016 elections and was reused in last Monday’s polls.

As of Tuesday night, majority of the administration’s senatorial candidates dominate the Top 12 of the senatorial race.

The figure was based on the partial official tally of the votes from 34 Certificates of Canvass (COCs) by the Comelec, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC).

Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) Senate bets included in the Top 12 are re-electionist Senator Cynthia Villar, who topped the list with 4,092,454 votes; former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, 3,293,341 (third); former senator Pia Cayetano, 3,251,819 (fourth); and former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Bato dela Rosa, 3,128,061 (fifth).

Also included are reelectionist Senator Sonny Angara, 3,022,955 (sixth); former Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, 2,850,643 (seventh); former Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino, 2,584,833 (eighth); and re-electionist Koko Pimentel, 2,439,571 (10th).

Completing the partial official list are re-electionist Senator Grace Poe (second), 3,650,288; former senator Lito Lapid, 2,520,316 (ninth); re-electionist Nancy Binay, 2,366,035 (11th); and opposition bet and re-electionist Senator Bam Aquino, 2,335,724 (12th).
The NBOC officially convened on Monday but only began canvassing the votes on Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said they are open to the conduct of an independent investigation regarding the issues reported on Election Day.

“We are willing to undergo third party audit. All they can see is that the Central Server is fully functioning while the Transparency Server only temporarily hanged up,” Guanzon said in a separate interview.

The poll body official said she will also recommend the withholding of the payment for the suppliers of Secure Digital (SD) cards, S1 Technologies, Inc., and Silicon Valley Computer Group, due to the number of cards that have been found to be corrupted.

“This is my personal view. The supplier of the SD cards, we won’t pay them fully. I also want the procurement process reviewed, as well as their delivery of the SD cards. Because that was the real culprit,” Guanzon said.

It was reported that 1,665 (1.9 percent) SD cards out of the 85,769 were found to be defective and needed replacement last Monday. (PNA)

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