By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
Filipino voters have less than one month left to assess who they will pick to lead them for the next six years.
After the casting of ballots on May 9, what happens next before the new president and vice president are proclaimed?
The installation of the country’s top two officials has to undergo a thorough process – from the transmission of certificates of canvass to Congress to the counting of votes by lawmakers, to the proclamation of the president-elect and vice president-elect upon the completion of the canvass of votes.
Under Batasang Pambansa 881 or the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) of the Philippines, the certificates of canvass that will be transmitted to Congress must be duly certified by the Board of Canvassers (BOC) of each province, city or district.
The Senate and the House of Representatives, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), will convene for a joint public session for the canvassing of votes.
In the event Congress finds the certificate of canvass incomplete, the BOC involved, within two days from receipt of the notice, is required to personally deliver to the Batasang Pambansa the election returns from polling places that were excluded in the certificate of canvass and supporting statements.
Each political party or independent candidate is permitted to designate one watcher in every polling place.
The watchers, according to OEC, are allowed to “take notes of what they may see or hear” and “take photographs of the proceedings of the board of election inspectors and incidents, if any, during the counting of votes, as well as of election returns, tally boards and ballot boxes”.
Poll watchers may also file a protest against any irregularity or violation of law which they believe may have been committed by the board of election inspectors or other persons.
Watchers are entitled to obtain from the board of election inspectors a certificate as to the filing of protest or of the resolution, as well as to read the ballots after being read by the chairman, and the election results completed and signed by the board of election inspectors.
For certificate of canvass with erasures or altercations that may cast doubt on the veracity of the number of votes and may affect the poll results, the concerned presidential or vice presidential candidate may ask Congress to count the votes as they appear in the copies of the election returns.
In case two or more candidates for president or vice president share an equal number of votes, the winner will be chosen by a majority vote of all members of Congress in a special session.
The proclamation of the two top officials can also be made, even if there are certificates of canvass that have not been submitted on account of missing election returns, so long as it will no longer affect the results.
“Proclamation shall be made only upon submission of all certificates of canvass or when the missing certificates of canvass will not affect the results of the election,” according to Article 2, Section 20 of the OEC.
The president-elect and the vice president-elect will assume office by 12 noon on June 30.
The president will serve a term of six years, with no provision for re-election.
The vice president may be appointed to the Cabinet in a concurrent capacity and may seek re-election after six years.
Ten candidates are vying to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte, including incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo.
Among the vice presidential hopefuls are Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Voters will also elect 12 senators and a party-list.
A congressman, a mayor, a vice mayor, members of the local council, and provinces, governor and vice governor, and members of the provincial board will be elected at the local level. (PNA)