Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III today (May 24) said Congress must ascertain that the sovereign will of the people, expressed through the ballot, is respected and upheld.
In his opening remarks at the start of the joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives to canvass the votes cast in the May 9, 2022 and proclaim the President-elect and Vice President-elect, Sotto stressed that the canvassing of votes would be taken in an orderly and transparent manner, pursuant to the objectives of transparency, credibility, fairness and accuracy.
‘’To resolve the issues that may arise, Congress must require the appearance before the members of the Joint Session of Congress of the Comelec, Smartmatic, and other persons or entities including information technology experts, whose testimonies, explanations or elucidations may be required, prior to proceeding with the canvassing proper to be conducted by the Joint Congressional Canvassing Committee,’’ he said.
Sotto said the Rules that Congress would adopt must give it reasonable and sufficient opportunity to carefully establish the integrity and reliability of the results contained in the certificated submitted to it.
‘’But the same rules must obviate the introduction of matters that are clearly dilatory and extraneous to the performance of the constitutional duty that rests upon the members of Congress,’’ he pointed out.
Sotto emphasized that Congress should be mindful of its moral duty to resist any ill-motivated attempt on the part of some parties or elements who, taking advantage of such irregularities, or worse, may have deliberately intended to cause the failure of the automation process or the election itself, to derail the proclamation of a new President and a new Vice President of the land.
The Senate chief stressed that it is unfair to all the candidates for president and vice president for Congress to sacrifice veracity, accuracy and integrity for speed, as he pointed out that each of the candidates is entitled to know the number of votes he or she garnered, and to know and be assured that he or she has won or lost in a fair contest.
In the same manner, Sotto said that it is unfair for the electorate who cast their votes for their chosen candidates to be wondering whether their votes were counted.
He added that it might even be most unfair to the real winners if their victory is tainted or put to doubt.
‘’Unreasonable, unnecessary or deliberate delay in the canvass so that Congress would be prevented from proclaiming a new President and a new Vice President before noon of June 30, 2022, may just be the greatest disservice to the country,’’ he said.