Comelec suspends canvass of party-list votes

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Canvass of votes for party-lists has been suspended Tuesday, amid fears that concerns raised by various groups will delay even the proclamation of winners in the Senate race.

The Commission on Elections, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, decided to proceed with counting votes for the senatorial race after canvassing only six election returns.

"Pag pinagsasabay natin, pareho nadedelay (If we count votes for senator and party-lists at the same time, both get delayed)," Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Jr. said.

"[S]a party-list lang naman nagkakagulo (The hullabaloo is only among party-list groups)," he added.

Several party-list groups raised concerns that counting the 12 groups Comelec earlier barred from the polls will impact even the fate of accredited organizations.

Abono Party-list first broached the issue after the National Board of Canvassers released its first partial and official tally.

Other groups followed suit, with Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Neri Colminares noting that the result may deprive winning party-list organizations from sitting in the House of Representatives.

"[T]he votes of disqualified parties should not be counted. And what is their status now? They are still disqualified," Colminares said.

He was referring to the groups whose names have already despite being barred from the polls by Comelec.

These are:
Agapay ng Indigenous Peoples Rights Alliance,Inc. (A-IPRA)
Abang Lingkod Party-List (ABANG LINGKOD)
Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD)
Ang Galing Pinoy (AG)
Atong Paglaum, Inc. (Atong Paglaum)
Kaagapay ng Nagkakaisang Agilang Pilipinong Magsasaka (KAP)
Coalition of Senior Citizens in the Philippines, Inc. (SENIOR CITIZENS)
Social Movement for Active Reform and Transparency (SMART)
1st Kabalikat ng Bayan Ginhawang Sangkatauhan (1st KABAGIS)
The True Marcos Loyalist (for God, Country and People)
Association of the Philippines, Inc. (BANTAY)
Philippine Coconut Producers Federation, Inc. (COCOFED)
Binhi-Partido ng mga Magsasaka Para sa mga Magsasaka (BINHI)

The groups had been included ballot printing, pending an earlier appeal they hjave filed with the Supreme Court.

The high court has however remanded to the Comelec the decision on these party-list groups. Comelec decided not to reinstate them.

Brillantes said the suspension of canvass of votes for party-lists will allow the NBOC to speed up the count in the senatorial race.

"Since apparently there are no issues in the senatorial (count), we can finish canvassing and proclaim winners as announced," he said.

The poll chief on Monday noted that the NBOC expects to proclaim winners in the senatorial race by 7 p.m. Wednesday, only 48 hours after polling closed.

Questions on the legality of the move have meanwhile been shrugged off, with Brillantes urging challengers to take the issue to the Supreme Court.

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