Impact Hub Manila, the company tapped by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to mount its series of presidential and vice-presidential debates ahead of the May 9 polls, has described its failure to pay Sofitel Philippine Plaza for hosting the events as a “misunderstanding” and “miscommunication”.
In a statement on Saturday through its lawyer, the company said reports “as to the cause of the miscommunication were incomplete.”
The company said it will discuss “privately” its payment mess with Sofitel “and other stakeholders”.
“Unfortunately, the initiative between the two private companies encountered some misunderstandings. While there have been incomplete reports as to the cause of the miscommunication, Impact Hub Manila will refrain from publicly divulging these matters and will endeavor to discuss them with Sofitel impact..and other stakeholders privately,” it said.
Comelec was not a party to the contract between Impact Hub Manila and Sofitel, the company added.
Impact Hub also thanked Comelec for allowing it to be its production partner for the last three episodes of the 2022 presidential and vice presidential debates.
In a document obtained by ABS-CBN News this week, Sofitel Philippine Plaza threatened to “suspend all its remaining deliverables under the event contract” unless Impact Hub remits P14 million as partial payment for their services.
In its demand letter dated April 20, Sofitel said Impact Hub’s CEO Celeste Eden Rondario repeatedly issued them bouncing checks.
Sofitel Philippine Plaza was the venue for the March 19 and 20 and April 3 debates. The last leg of the Comelec debates was initially set this weekend.
Comelec Commissioner George Garcia on Friday said the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) would be their new partner in mounting the last two debates on April 30 and May 1, instead of April 23 and 24.
Several high-ranking Comelec officials are also being asked to explain their participation in the allegedly “grossly disadvantageous” partnership with Impact Hub Manila.
In an internal memorandum obtained by ABS-CBN News, Comelec Commissioner Rey Bulay flagged several possible irregularities with the poll body’s deal with Impact Hub, which is allegedly financially incapable in staging projects of such scale.
“Why was Impact Hub chosen as the organizer and how were they vetted?”
Bulay said in a strongly-worded memo dated April 22.
According to Bulay’s memo, some of his colleagues were willing to pay P15 million to save Impact Hub from its financial mess with Sofitel.
“While others are considering releasing P15 million from Comelec funds to pay Sofitel, no one was able to cite the basis for the release of
such funds. Impact Hub contracted Sofitel for the [debate] venue… It is clear that Comelec has no contractual relationship with Sofitel,”
“If Comelec releases P15 million (worth) of public funds, Comelec will be wrongly covering up Impact Hub’s liability, as Comelec will be
paying on behalf of Impact Hub,” he added.