Comelec row worsens: 3 execs to boycott barangay polls

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The rift in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) seems to have taken a turn for the worse, as three commissioners plan to boycott the coming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls, an official said yesterday.  

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said that she and her fellow First Division commissioners Christian Robert Lim and Luie Guia have decided not to participate in the conduct of the two polls.

Guanzon claimed that in line with the May 9 polls, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista had passed to them some responsibilities that the poll chief should have been doing. 

“Perhaps it’s about time that Chairman Bautista run the elections. You know it’s better that he does it all by himself because you can give credit where credit is due,” she added.

She, however, gave assurance that they would be involved in full- bench deliberations regarding the purchase of election paraphernalia for the synchronized elections and other transactions.

“We actually don’t have the duty to do that as commissioners. We don’t have the duty of involving ourselves in operations. Our job is policy making and quasi-judicial but, of course, if he needs my help, I have a lot of experience in manual elections, how can I refuse him?” she said. 

Guanzon said that Bautista, as head of Comelec, is mandated to notify agencies, stakeholders and users about the hacking of the website.  

But, instead, he appointed Lim and Commissioner Al Parreño so the two were the ones subpoenaed by the National Privacy Commission. 

“The director of the Information Technology Department is directly under his supervision. It is very unfair that commissioners have to take responsibility for something that by law is not their job,” she said. 

Guanzon added they want to focus on the cases pending in their division but that they would be joining deliberations on issues related to the barangay and SK polls. 

During the recent polls, Guanzon was in charge of the Local Absentee Voting while Guia handled the people with disabilities and indigenous people and the Random Manual Audit.

Lim, on the other hand, was the head of the steering committee and of the Campaign Finance Office. 

For his part, Bautista had expressed sadness over such development as he hopes that it would not overshadow the success of the recent elections.

“This is saddening because we were really able to make our elections successful. What’s happening now may cause concern among the people,” he told reporters. 

Bautista also denied Guanzon’s accusation that he was passing his responsibilities to the other commissioners.  

“That’s a lie. In fact there are 26 memos detailing what we have done concerning the hacking,” he said.

He said that even the June 3 memorandum of the six commissioners detailing his “failure of leadership” was “not factually accurate.”

“We have to act in a professional manner. That’s all we need. There are no issues that we cannot address as long as we have respect and courtesy for each other,” he added.

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