Comelec to investigate missing COCs during Congress canvassing

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 25) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) says it will look into why some certificates of canvass (COCs) went missing during the counting of votes for the presidential and vice-presidential elections.

"Hindi naman siya ma-qualify as election offense kasi it's only part of the procedure that you will submit it, and then we can correct it naman. As to siguro may some mistake or administrative, we will try to look at it whether it's intentional or advertently," Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said in a briefing.

[Translation: It does not qualify as an election offense because it's only part of the procedure that you will submit it, and then we can correct it. As to whether there was an administrative mistake or not, we will try to look at it whether it was intentional or done advertently.]

Casquejo said they have a list of election officials in charge of the concerned COCs, so they can investigate further on the issue. Assuming what happened is found to be not "justifiable," he added that sanctions can be made based on Civil Service rules.

Comelec earlier found itself in hot water over the missing COCs, but appealed for understanding from lawmakers — citing lack of sleep and pressure, among "many factors."

During the canvassing in the morning, Senate contingent head and Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri again lost his cool upon learning about the missing COCs from Mandaluyong and Sulu, just a day after the joint panel encountered a similar issue from Pampanga, Sultan Kudarat, and Surigao del Sur.

"It is such a simple duty of the PES (provincial election supervisor) and the Comelec to deliver the provincial COCs to the Senate so we may canvass them on time during the NBOC and joint session of Congress. How difficult is that to do?" Zubiri said.

He also referred to the postponed confirmation hearing on the ad interim appointments of top Comelec officials initially set on the same day.

"The Comelec is now in the Senate trying to apply for confirmation under the Commission on Appointments. How can we confirm them, they can't even deliver to us today the COCs needed to canvass the votes for president and vice president?," Zubiri said.

Atty. Helen Aguila-Flores, Deputy Executive Director for Administration of Comelec, told the senator: "In the course of my conversations with provincial supervisors concerned, and this morning with the election officer of Mandaluyong, it is a common feature of their explanation that despite their prudence in trying to organize the different copies, it is inevitable that somehow they have missed to organize that part that is intended for this body in view of many factors like lack of sleep because they continuously do the canvassing."

"Being a former provincial supervisor myself your honor, I had also gone through that experience and we really beg for your kind understanding your honor, please, regarding such omission or shortcoming on the part of our field officers who are most of the time under pressure during the canvassing," she added.

Later during the session, COCs from Manila and Cagayan de Oro were also discovered to be missing. The panel also had to defer canvassing of votes for Taguig and Pateros due to confusion in labeling.

Congress eventually finished canvassing on Wednesday evening and proclaimed Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos as president-elect and his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte as vice president-elect.