LAKAS WON'T ALLOW POE ALLIES TO DERAIL CANVASS
MANILA, JUNE 14, 2004 (STAR) By Delon Porcalla - Administration lawmakers have vowed to block attempts by the opposition to question the legitimacy of the congressional canvassing of votes for president and vice president.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., who plans to bring up the issue today, says the legitimacy of the canvassing became questionable because Congress adjourned last Friday.
Davao City Rep. Prospero Nograles and Cebu City Rep. Antonio Cuenco, however, maintained that the issue has already been "adequately addressed" by Speaker Jose de Venecia and Senate President Franklin Drilon when both chambers closed their sessions.
"The issue is not in the order of business of the joint panel and should not be discussed," said Nograles, who, along with Cuenco, is a member of the committee.
De Venecia and House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales Jr. earlier explained that the House only closed its legislative calendar and did not adjourn sine die or indefinitely to avoid legal impediments.
Drilon said Congress adjourned sine die in the 1992 and 1998 elections even though the canvassing was still ongoing.
The chamber may reconvene and resume session if needed without any need for President Arroyo to call for a special session. Only Congress’ legislative function was closed but not its administrative work, like the canvassing of the presidential vote, the congressional leaders said.
Nograles said since the issue had been settled last week, "any discussion on the canvass legitimacy is speculative and should not be allowed to delay the constitutional duty of Congress to canvass and proclaim the presidential and vice presidential winners before June 30."
"Raising it before the joint panel would be like beating a dead horse," he said.
Cuenco reminded colleagues that Congress has to determine the winners before the June 30 deadline imposed by the Constitution.
"The joint panel has to comply with a duty to finish the preliminary canvass and submit its report for plenary approval. The resolved legitimacy question should not be used by the opposition as an excuse to again delay the tabulation. The people have grown impatient by the delays last week," Cuenco said.
Pimentel, however, insisted the issue remained unresolved.
He argued the committee cannot continue to function because the outgoing Congress is now inexistent due to the adjournment.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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