Comelec Commissioner Bulay seeks temporary relief of spox Jimenez, director Arabe over debate mess

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Comelec Commissioner Bulay seeks temporary relief of spox Jimenez, director Arabe over debate mess
Presidential candidates attend the first round of Comelec-sponsored Pilipinas Debates 2022 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila tent in Pasay City on Saturday, March 19, 2022.
Philstar.com / Deejae Dumlao

MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections Commissioner Rey Bulay has recommended that the poll body’s spokesperson, James Jimenez, and one of its directors, Frances Arabe, be temporarily relieved from media relations and publicity work while an internal investigation on the PiliPinas Debates fiasco rolls on.

In a statement on Friday, Bulay said he recommended the temporary relief of Jimenez and Arabe “in the interest of the service.” The Comelec commissioner also recommended that temporary replacements at the poll body’s education and information department be designated in their stead.

While Bulay wants to prevent Jimenez and Arabe from performing most of their duties at the poll body, he said they can “continue other functions under the supervision of their committee heads.”

Jimenez and Arabe were among the Comelec officials asked by Bulay for an explanation over their supposed push for the poll body to release P15 million so the debates can continue.

The final installment of the presidential and vice-presidential debates organized by the Comelec did not push through as the poll body’s private partner, Impact Hub Manila, failed to pay P14 million to debates venue Sofitel Plaza.

“If Comelec releases P15,000,000 of public funds, Comelec will be wrongly covering up Impact Hub’s liability, as Comelec will be paying on behalf of Impact Hub. I also discovered that there is such a thing as ‘counterpart’ money that Comelec will pay Impact Hub,” Bulay said in an internal memorandum obtained by The STAR.

Impact Hub had attributed its failure to pay Sofitel to “miscommunication” and “misunderstandings,” but declined to discuss further details. It also clarified that the Comelec was not a party to its agreement with Sofitel. — Xave Gregorio with a report from ONE News and Robertzon Ramirez/The STAR





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