Congress to canvass Palace, VP race votes no matter what–Sotto

Published May 21, 2022, 2:49 PM

by Mario Casayuran

With or without a Supreme Court (SC) restraining order, the Senate and the House of Representatives will convene on May 24 to tally the votes of the May 9, 2022 presidential and vice presidential elections.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III stressed this during a DWIZ radio interview Saturday, May 21 on the SC’s decision issued last Thursday asking the Congress, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the camp of presumptive President Ferdinand ‘’Bongbong’’ Marcos Jr. to answer within 15 days two petitions asking the High Tribunal to restrain the Senate and the House of Representatives from their canvassing of the presidential and vice presidential votes.

After the two legislative chambers convene into the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), Sotto said they will start canvassing Tuesday at the House of Representatives where he expects that the winners of the presidential and vice presidential elections would be proclaimed by May 26.

This means that the winners shall have been proclaimed next week as the SC awaits the answers of Congress, Comelec and Marcos on or before June 3, the scheduled sine die adjournment of the two legislative chambers.

Sotto had said that stopping Congress from canvassing the votes for president and vice president of the Republic would court a constitutional crisis.

Civic leaders on Tuesday asked the High Tribunal to stop the Senate and House of Representatives from canvassing the votes cast for former senator and presumptive president Marcos.

‘’ If that happens, we will be courting a constitutional crisis from the fact that Congress can no longer meet after June 3rd. Who will then conduct the canvass as mandated by the Constitution?” Sotto asked.

Sotto stressed that July 25 is a key date for Congress.

‘’So, no President or VP (Vice President) by June 30? What do they propose? Holdover? Tell me if that is not a crisis!” he added.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, a former Senate President and former justice secretary, said the petition would not prosper.

Should the SC issue a temporary restraining order (TRO), Sotto said the canvassing would go on because the Constitution that mandates the canvassing is more powerful than a TRO.

`’Ano gagawin ng Supreme Court, saan AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), sino uutusan nila para arestuhin o pigilan kami, may armed forces ba sila? (What would the Supreme Court do, where is the AFP, which agency shall they order to arrest us or stop us, do they have an AFP?),’’ he asked.

‘’Dapat tinitignan nila, sour-graping lang ba ang iba kasi (They should look into this, there are some who are just sour-graping),’’ he added.

Sotto explained that Congress is constitutionally mandated to proclaim the winners within 30 days after the elections.

He emphasized that a TRO could not amend the Constitution.

‘’We have to perform our duty,’’ he added.