Congress ready to canvass votes for president, VP

Lawmakers are gearing up for a quick and transparent vote canvassing for president and vice president that will begin Tuesday.,Members of the Senate and the Lower House will reconvene as the national board of canvassers (NBOC) at the Batasan complex in Quezon City on Monday. A day after, they will start validating election returns.,Under the 1987 Constitution, both chambers of Congress will release the official vote count in a joint public session and proclaim the winners of the presidential and vice-presidential elections.,“Yes, [it’s all systems go]. It is mandated by the Constitution. I intend to fulfill that mandate as Senate President,” said Senator Vicente Sotto III, who will preside over the NBOC with Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.,NBOC members are eyeing the proclamation of the new president and vice president by Friday unless someone questions the result and delays the canvassing.,There was no reason to prolong the tallying of votes for the top government posts, said Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Quimbo, a member of the House contingent.,“In my opinion, there was none,” she told the Daily Tribune when asked if there could be an obstacle or challenge that may delay the canvassing. “We are optimistic that things will proceed smoothly. At any rate, we are prepared to handle various scenarios.”,The lawmaker assured the public that the entire process would be transparent, noting that it would be aired over television and the internet.,Quimbo added that lawyers and representatives of candidates would be present at the plenary hall and were allowed to manifest their observations on the canvass documents.,“Rest assured the entire procedure will be transparent to the public,” she said.,Aside from Velasco and Quimbo, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Representatives Boying Remulla (Cavite 7th District), Abraham Tolentino (Cavite 8th District), Rimpy Bondoc (Pampanga 4th District), Kristine Singson-Meehan (Ilocos Sur 2nd District), and Sharon Garin (AAMBIS-OWA) will comprise the House contingent.,Representatives Juliet Ferrer (Negros Occidental 4th District), Kiko Benitez (Negros Occidental 3rd District), Manix Dalipe (Zamboanga City 2nd District), and Johnny Pimentel (Surigao del Sur 2nd District) will serve as alternate members.,Sotto and Senators Grace Poe, Franklin Drilon, Pia Cayetano, Francis Tolentino, Nancy Binay, Ralph Recto, and Cynthia Villar will form the Senate contingent.,The canvassing tabulation will be flashed on LED screens through document scanners inside the plenary hall. This time, there will be no manual tallies, unlike in the previous canvassing.,Around 460 individuals will be allowed entry into session halls to observe the tallying of votes, provided that they submit coronavirus test results taken in the last 24 hours with negative results.,Members of the media are also required to submit accreditation forms to cover the canvassing.,Former senator Bongbong Marcos Jr. is leading the presidential race by a wide margin after garnering over 31 million votes, more than twice the 14.8 million votes got by his closest rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, according to the partial and unofficial tally released by the Commission on Elections.,The Supreme Court earlier ordered Marcos, Comelec, the Senate, and the House to comment on a petition filed by victims of Martial Law abuses which asked the High Tribunal to issue a temporary restraining order on the canvassing of Marcos’ votes and his proclamation as the 17th Philippine president.,Sotto previously said that Congress is bound by the Constitution to act as the NBOC and tha,