Senators proclaimed today

By Leslie Ann Aquino

With the canvassing of votes still not over, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will now separately proclaim the winning senators and party-list groups in the May 13, 2019 midterm polls.

Comelec Education and Information Department Assistant Director Frances Arabe said the proclamation of the winning senators is tentatively set for Tuesday evening while the winning party-list groups are tentatively set for Wednesday evening.

She explained that the Comelec, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), is still waiting for the certificates of canvass (COCs) from the US and Saudi Arabia to arrive. They involve 550,000 votes.

“We are expecting the arrival (of the COCs) tomorrow morning,” she said.

“If we were able to canvass by 12 noon (Tuesday) 100 percent, we proceed with the schedule of (proclamation) of senators,” said Arabe.

As for the proclamation of party-list groups, Arabe said it was moved from Tuesday morning to Wednesday evening.

“Since they (NBOC) still have a session until noon tomorrow... it was moved to Wednesday evening,” Arabe said.

As of late Monday, the Comelec already canvassed 165 out of 167 COCs.

The Comelec had earlier expected to proclaim the winning senators and party-list groups by today (May 21). But with the delay in the arrival of the COCs from the US and Saudi Arabia, the Comelec has to change the schedule.

Earlier, Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said Asked if President Duterte is attending the proclamation, Jimenez said they are not sure but they are preparing for it.

“We don't know for sure. But because he did come for the filing of the certificate of candidacy that is something we are preparing for as well. So we are preparing, which means we are not just preparing for his arrival security-wise but we are also preparing a space for him and his entourage on the floor for him tomorrow,” said Jimenez.

During the filing of the COC last October, President Duterte accompanied his former aide Bong Go in filing his COC at Comelec in Intramuros, Manila.

Administration bets are currently dominating the partial and official count of the Comelec which includes Go.

61 seats for partylist

As this developed, the number of seats for party-list groups in the House of Representatives increased to 61, from 59 in the 2016 elections, due to the creation of a new congressional district last March.

“Sixty-one seats are available in Congress for party-list organizations,” Jimenez said.

Republic Act (RA) 7941 (the Party-List System Act) provides that “party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum (20 percent) of the total number of members of the House of Representatives, including those under the party-list.”

The new congressional district was created after President Duterte signed into law last March 11, the measure separating General Santos City from the First Legislative District of South Cotabato.

Because of this, the Comelec issued Resolution 10535 last May 7 to include the new legislation in the elections.

Meanwhile, Jimenez said the Comelec will continue to follow the allocation system for the party-list seats set by the Supreme Court (SC) in its 2009 ruling over the case of Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) vs Comelec.

Under the system, Jimenez said party-list organizations will undergo two rounds of allocations. He said that those who received two percent of the total votes will get guaranteed seats from the 61 available seats.

Since RA 7941 states that party-list “shall be entitled to not more than three seats,” Jimenez said the SC put in place a mathematical formula on how those with guaranteed seats may receive two or more seats.

“So the guaranteed seat will get additional seats,” he said.

“Then the rest of the seats will then be apportioned to the remaining party-list organizations in descending order,” Jimenez explained.

DILG ready to train new officials

Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) expressed readiness to train 17,754 newly elected and re-elected local government officials on how to become effective local government leaders “who will steer their respective localities to greater heights of peace and development.”

DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the department through its training arm, the Local Government Academy (LGA), will soon roll-out the Newly Elected Officials (NEO) Program for both neophytes and even the veterans who have been a given a fresh mandate by the people to serve for the next three years.

“Whether you are a newbie or veteran in the local government arena, the DILG under the leadership of Secretary Eduardo Año is prepared to equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills in governance to enable you to deal with the critical challenges of your office,” said Malaya.

“We have some very young first-term city mayors like 29-year-old mayor-elect Vico Sotto of Pasig City and 22-year-old mayor-elect Arth Bryan Celeste of Alaminos City, among others. I know they have lots of plans for their constituents. The DILG is here to train and guide them so that they can better serve the people,” he added. (With reports from Jeffrey G. Damicog and Chito A. Chavez)