Proclamation Questioned

Manila Bulletin, May 18, 2013 | Go to article overview
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Proclamation Questioned

Manila, Philippines --- An election lawyer yesterday urged the six recently proclaimed senators to return their certificate of proclamation, saying it is null and void.

"The Certificate of Proclamation (COP) issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to Grace Poe, Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Nancy Binay, and Sonny Angara as alleged winners in a partial proclamation of results is null and void," Atty. Romulo Macalintal Macalintal said in an interview.

"Such proclamation is defective because it does not contain the number of votes obtained by the alleged winners and no ranking was made but merely based on alphabetical order," he added.

Under its rules, the Comelec does not even have the authority to make a partial proclamation since the rules provide for a "completion of canvass" as basis of such proclamation, Macalintal said.

He said Binay should be appreciated for knowing the law and giving respect to the voters by not accepting her COP as she would rather wait for the final tally and proclamation of the 12 winning senatorial candidates.

"Thus, it will be the shining moment in the political career of the five proclaimed candidates if they will return or surrender the said COP to the Comelec since it is not a valid proclamation," said Macalintal.

"For the six proclaimed senatorial candidates, such gesture could be a shining moment for them because it plainly shows the importance that they put on the democratic process, and how much they value every vote cast for them," he added.

He said these senators and all other candidates have spent the past months tirelessly soliciting votes from the electorate, and, it would be a shame if those votes would, after all, end up as not being counted.

"Whatever happened to Comelec's celebrated one-liner that "every vote counts?" asked Macalintal.

He said as early as 1968 the Supreme Court held in Mutuc vs Comelec that an incomplete canvass is illegal and cannot be the basis of subsequent proclamation, thus mandating the Comelec to "count all the votes cast and consider all the returns."

"Without including the votes in the proclamation is disrespectful of the returns and in effect disenfranchises the voters," Macalintal said.

Expediency, he said, cannot also be the reason to make a hasty proclamation, noting that the Supreme Court in the Mutuc case ruled that "the Comelec has no power to decide questions involving the right to vote because to do so is in effect to deny the voters their votes."

"The Comelec has ample time to await the uncanvassed COCs since there are still 45 days remaining before the June 30, 2013 statutory date for the winning senatorial candidates to assume their office," Macalintal said.

Meanwhile, the poll watchdog group Kontra Daya yesterday slammed the decision of the Comelec to stop the release of results coming from their transparency server.

Fr. Joe Dizon, Kontra Daya convenor, said the move removed the "last pretense of transparency" in the 2013 midterm polls.

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