Pimentel: Undervotes ‘non-issue’ in vote count

SENATOR Aquilino Pimentel III, chair of Senate canvassing panel, said Friday that the alleged undervoting in the May 9 polls will not affect the counting of votes for the presidential and vice presidential races.

“To guide all of us, undervote is always mentioned, and yet, it is not being used to object to the inclusion in the canvass. Hence, from the point of view of the person manifesting undervotes, it is a non-issue in the count and in the proclamation,” Pimentel said in chance interview at the House of Representatives.

During the canvassing of votes for president and vice president, the camp of vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has raised the issue of undervoting before the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC).

Marcos' camp said there were more than 3.3 million undervotes for the vice presidential race.

While Pimentel recognized the alleged undervoting, the senator said such observation was perhaps an “indirect appeal” of the Marcos camp “to direct the Commission on Elections to capture statistics like undervoting, overvoting, and loss votes.”

“Maybe they (Marcos’ camp) just want to put it in record for possible study, for possible improvement in our system, that in the future, if we should get an automated election system, it should be able to capture undervotes and also invalid votes. With the computerized election system, we should be able to do that,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel, on the other hand, said that if a losing candidate is not satisfied with the result of the canvassing, he can file an electoral protest before the joint canvassing committee.

Asked then if any delay is anticipated because of the tight race between Marcos and his rival, Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo, Pimentel said: “Delay? Yes. We should be open to possible delays especially if there's a ground.”

“My attitude is, we should be in a hurry but not too much in a hurry. We will not railroad proceedings. If there’s a reasonable point being raised, then we should pause and listen, that’s my attitude,” he added.

But so far, Pimentel said that all candidates for the two highest positions, as well as their counsels, have been cooperative.

“I would like to commend all the candidates and all the lawyers because they have been very cooperative. No one has been disrupting the proceedings; no one has been imagining non-existent discrepancies.”

The NBOC has finished canvassing of 50 out of 150 certificates of canvass after two days of canvassing.

Pimentel said the committee would try to finish the canvassing Friday.

"I told my staff to send words to the members of the Senate panel that although we expect to stay up to 10 p.m., but if necessary, we should be willing to stay up to 12 midnight, if for example, only a few more COCs are left," Pimentel said.

"But if the substantial number is left, then we can defer this to Monday," he added.

The incoming president and vice president may then be proclaimed on May 31. (Sunnex)

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