Prove yourself, poll chief told

THREE elections commissioners said Monday they will no longer participate in operational preparations for the October barangay elections, after criticizing Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista for his “failure of leadership.”

“We don’t want to take part in the operational aspect of the barangay elections anymore,” said Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, one of six commissioners who issued a memo to Bautista last week that raised 15 issues against him.

Guanzon said they wanted to give Bautista free rein in running the October elections and allow him to prove his capabilities.

“It’s about time Chairman Bautista runs an election,” she said.

She and two other commissioners—Christian Robert Lim and Luie Guia—agreed to sit out the operational aspects of the upcoming polls, and join only the administrative activities as part of the en banc.

Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista
“Of course we will participate in the en banc if there are any actions needed,” Guanzon said.

Bautista said he would have to verify the decision of the three commissioners at Tuesday’s en banc meeting.

“If that is really their position, we will see. But that is unfortunate,” Bautista said.

Bautista on Monday said he would not resign despite the scathing criticism from his colleagues in the en banc.

He said he could find no reason to quit after the successful conduct of the national and local elections in May.

“I am not thinking of leaving my post... at all because I did not do anything wrong. The past election is a clear proof that the Comelec can hold an orderly, successful, and peaceful election,” said Bautista, who just arrived from a vacation in Japan.

Over the weekend, Guanzon criticized Bautista for leaving without designating an officer in charge.

But Bautista continue to shrug off the criticism.

“Every public servant cannot be onion-skinned. They need to be able to accept criticisms that come with the job. At the same time, we should not have a gecko-like grip to our positions. If we believe we are still effective in what we do, then we should continue serving the people,” Bautista said.

The memo from Christian Robert Lim, Arthur Lim, Guia, Guanzon, Sheriff Abas and Al Parreño leaked last week raised 15 issues against Bautista, including the late payment of public school teachers who served as board of election inspectors during the last elections.

“I am a bit saddened because we have just successfully conducted the elections, where it appears that the public perception towards us went up,” Bautista said Monday. “Now, with this, it creates some doubts [among] our people.”

But Guanzon said they only held back their concerns and grievances until after the elections.

She also said it took them more than a month to raise these concerns because Bautista continuously refused to deal with them before the May 9 elections.

“It’s been months… We really think that Chairman Bautista could have solved many problems, but he did not,” Guanzon said.

Bautista said he would deal with those concerns at Tuesday’s en banc meeting.

“What I want is a meeting that is conducted in a professional manner. As I said, we should have respect and courtesy to one another. Even if we don’t agree in certain issues, it should not lead to shouting and scolding. We can disagree without being disagreeable,” Bautista said.

Guanzon said they have long wanted to meet with Bautista but he refused to face them.

“I don’t understand why he cannot meet with us. He is our chairman. How can he lead these commissioners [if we don’t meet]?” Guanzon said.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will deliberate on a petition that seeks to void the Comelec decision to extend the deadline for the filing of statements of contributions and expenditures (SOCE) upon the request of the Liberal Party.

A Court insider said the petition filed last week by retired Army Col. Justino Padiernos of the People’s Freedom Party and lawyer Manuelito Luna of 1-Abilidad party-list is included in the agenda of the justices in their regular session today.

The petitioners have asked the Court to issue a status quo order that would set the deadline back to June 8.

The petitioners asserted that the 30-day deadline was set under Republic Act 7166 or Synchronized Local and National Elections and Electoral Reforms Act, and that the poll body “is constitutionally and statutorily mandated to enforce and administer all election laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum and recall.”

They said the extension approved by the Comelec was tantamount “to an impermissible amendment of Section 14 of R.A. 7166,” which prohibits winning candidates of a political party that would fail to meet the deadline set by law to assume their respective posts.

The petitioners said the Comelec decision was unfair and set a bad precedent. With Rey E. Requejo

Topics: Andres Bautista , prove yourself , comelec , failure of leadership , criticize , SOCE , Liberal party
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