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Poll body won’t delay

Hananeel Bordey

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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday it will not allow a delay in the proclamation of winning senatorial candidates and this will be held “as scheduled” next week as the poll body dismissed calls of bishops to defer the ceremony.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), the citizen’s arm of the Comelec, also sought access to the Comelec central server.

Bishops are again interfering in the electoral process as an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA) sought the deferment of the proclamation of winners due to alleged electoral fraud.

The ceremony will push through as scheduled next week even as the Comelec respects the right of those calling to defer the proclamation, Jimenez said.

“They can make a call if they want. That’s their right, but in terms of likelihood, it’s unlikely that anything will be suspended on the basis of their unsubstantiated allegations,” Jimenez said.

As of Wednesday night, majority of the administration’s senatorial candidates dominate the Top 12 of the senatorial race.

As of 07:12 p.m. last night, the quick count tally showed Cynthia Villar still in the lead with 24,787,988 votes, followed by Grace Poe, 21,661,935 votes; former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, 20,132,329; former Sen. Pia Cayetano, 19,382,698; former Philippine National Police chief Bato de la Rosa, 18,504,606; reelectionist Sen. Sonny Angara, 17,819,247; former Sen. Lito Lapid, 16,661,923; former Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, 15,550,027; former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino, 15,136,341; erstwhile Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, 14,330,697; reelectionist Koko Pimentel, 14,327,909; and vying for the 12th place were Nancy Binay 14,277,180, and JV Ejercito, 14,039,608.

On the partial and official tally from the National Board of Canvassers (NBC), it showed Villar on top of the heap with 4,092,454 votes or around 400,000 votes ahead of second ranked Poe with 3,650,288 votes.

Go is still in third place with 3,293,341 votes, while Cayetano and De la Rosa have 3,251,819 and 3,128,061 votes, respectively.

Reelectionist Sen. Sonny Angara is in sixth spot with 3,022,955, while Imee Marcos and former MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino followed with 2,850,643 and 2,584,833, respectively.

Lito Lapid, former Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel and reelectionist Sen. Nancy Binay followed with 2,520,316, 2,439,571 and 2,366,035 votes, respectively.

Data check after glitch

PPCRV chairman Myla Villanueva said the quick count body wanted the Comelec data to help them check if these will match with results from the transparency server.

“We want to make sure that it’s the same,” Villanueva said at the PPCRV Command Center. “We have written the Comelec en banc. We have officially requested for that.”

PPCRV also requested for the transparency server’s logs at the time before the seven-hour election results transmission glitch on Monday night, Villanueva added.

“I will insist on the logs (but) it is right to wait. We do not want to interfere with the transparency server, which is still receiving data,” she explained. “But I don’t see any reason why we won’t get it.”

Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said the Comelec is open to an independent investigation regarding the issues on the server and machine glitches.

“We are willing to undergo third-party audit. All they can see is that the central server is fully functioning while the transparency server only temporarily hanged up,” Guanzon said.

Hope still up for JV

Reelectionist Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito is banking on the Mindanao votes, which are yet to be transmitted to the Comelec, that could spell his victory in the midterm polls.

Lawyer George Garcia, election counsel of Ejercito, said their camp is awaiting votes from various regions, including the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Ejercito’s camp said there are still four percent of the total cast votes – or roughly two million votes – yet to be transmitted to the Comelec due to varying reasons.

For his part, Ejercito said he is optimistic he will get a huge number of votes in Mindanao, citing his support for measures designed to benefit the region.

He said he actively supported the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law that paved the way for the establishment of BARMM.

Strong in BARMM

He is also banking on the popularity of his father, former President Joseph Estrada, among Mindanaoans.

Ejercito, at the same time, recognized the support of President Rodrigo Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte as factors that could boost his votes in Mindanao.

“I am quite strong in the BARMM area and Mindanao… Mindanao has been traditionally an Estrada bailiwick,” said Ejercito.

He also mentioned his budget allotment to the Amai Pakpak Hospital in Marawi City and how Maranaos supported his formula on how to rehabilitate the war-torn Islamic City.

“Plus, the Marawi rehab, they like my formula for the rehabilitation… there is a slim chance, but maybe it is where my votes are,” said Ejercito.

Ejercito continued to have a fighting chance in the ongoing vote count, maintaining the No. 13 position since Day One of the Comelec tally.

With Mario J. Mallari