Sen. Soto wants to “separate the canvassing” of the votes for president and vice president.
He says votes for vice presidential candidates Robredo and Marcos are very close (reports say by only about 200,000 votes based on the Comelec transparency server), unlike in the case of the presidential candidates Duterte and Roxas (where Duterte leads by six million votes).
May I raise the following legal points in re: the idea of Sen. Soto:
1. An election return for national-level candidates, e.g., president, vice president, and senators, is “one integrated legal document or Comelec election form.”
2. The National Board of Canvasses (Congress) must canvass the national-level election returns in one consolidated, integrated and simultaneous process as mandated by the Constitution.
3. To separate the canvassing of the votes for the vice president is unconstitutional, improper, dilatory, prejudicial and unfair not only to Robredo, who is leading, but also to the Filipino people themselves.
4. The Board should complete the canvassing and proclamation of the new president and vice president before June 30 this year.
5. The Constitution provides that the new president and vice president shall assume office on June 30 this year for a term of office of six years.
6. The constitutional duty of the Board is to “canvass and proclaim.”
7. If the lawyers of the presidential and vice presidential candidates raise legal objections during the canvassing, the Board shall simply “note” the same, for the record and for purposes of an “electoral protest” that may be filed by an aggrieved candidate, if any, before the “proper venue.”
8. If on its “face”, an election return is not tainted with “formal defects”, e.g., seal, signatures, and the like, the Board must admit, tally, compute and canvass the same.
9. The Board has no constitutional power to “try and decide electoral protests” involving the positions of president and vice president.
10. A “canvass proceeding” is not an “electoral protest proceeding”.
11. That constitutional power to try and decide “electoral protests” involving the positions of president and vice presidents is vested by the Constitution on to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) composed of the Supreme Court justices. It is the “proper constitutional venue with the proper constitutional jurisdiction” to try and decide “electoral protests.”