MANILA,  JUNE 4, 2004
"The members of the opposition are setting a world record in stonewalling democracy."

This was the statement made by Malacañang Thursday in reaction to the move by the opposition to file charges at the Supreme Court to stop a congressional committee from proceeding with the canvassing of votes for president and vice president on the grounds that the process was unconstitutional.

Presidential spokesperson Ignacio Bunye further said that, "We pray that they will come to their senses before they are completely isolated by the growing impatience of the public."

"We are confident that the opposition will never get away with their ploy to further derail the democratic process under the guise of raising constitutional issues before the High Court," Bunye said.

However, he added that the administration will respect any ruling handed down by the Supreme Court, "whose integrity and impartiality has always been beyond question."

In a 29-page petition, Davao City Rep. Ruy Elias Lopez questioned the legality of the rules adopted by the joint session of Congress in appointing the members of a joint committee to count the certificates of canvass (COCs) in the tabulation of results for the two elected positions.

Lopez was representing the opposition Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP).

Pimentel reassures delay in proclamation won't cause gov't paralysis  (STAR)

Newly-elected Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. Wednesday allayed apprehensions that a prolonged delay in the congressional canvassing of votes for presidential and vice presidential candidates may trigger a constitutional crisis or leadership vacuum in the executive branch.

Pimentel expressed the belief that Congress, sitting in joint session to canvass the votes for the presidential and vice-presidential elections, will be able to proclaim the winner before June 30.

He also dismissed the alarming scenario painted by administration lawmakers and lawyers that it would take months or even years before Congress can do so due to at the rate the opposition is raising questions over the authenticity and due execution of certificates of canvass (CoCs).

But in case of an extreme scenario where no winning presidential candidate can be proclaimed due to so many unresolved questions, Pimentel said the winning vice presidential bet can be proclaimed ahead of the highest elective official.

Reiterating that truth cannot be sacrificed for speed, the Mindanao senator said the pace of the canvassing will naturally slow down if the majority obstinately and unreasonably blocks every move to examine election documents other than the certificates of canvass (CoCs) in case of discrepancies and tampering of the vote count.

"I can’t understand the position of administration partisans who want us to refrain from questioning the votes of the President if there is evidence of tampering in accordance with the Constitution and election laws," he said.

Pimentel grumbled that the majority in Congress is trying to restrain the opposition from asserting its right to seek a correction of discrepancies in the count by raising the bugaboo that a non-proclamation of the winning president before June 30 will cause a paralysis in government.

He said that such problem will not happen because "the Constitution has wisely provided for that eventuality."

Pimentel invoked the Constitution which provides that "Vice President-elect shall act as President until a President shall have been chosen and qualified."

In case Congress fails to proclaim the winning presidential and vice presidential candidates, Pimentel said the Constitution has designated the Senate president as acting president.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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