Andres Bautista shrugs off Comelec discord
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Andres Bautista merely shrugged off the allegation of a “failed leadership” made against him by all six commissioners, stressing that it was contrary to the conduct and outcome of the May 9 polls.
“This is old news,” Bautista, who is reportedly in Japan, said in a text message to reporters.
He said the issues raised by the six commissioners against him have been resolved and it would be better to let the Filipino people be the judge if there was indeed a failure of leadership in the commission.
According to Bautista, he finds the phrase “failure of leadership” ironic after the May 2016 elections “which most believe was the fastest, most organized and successful elections in Philippine history.”
“Was the holding of nationwide presidential debates after 24 years a manifestation of failure of leadership as well?” Bautista asked.
In a strongly worded memorandum dated June 3, the commissioners enumerated “grave concerns,” apparently in response to Bautista’s “request to reduce our concerns in writing.”
Among other issues, they blamed Bautista for the delayed release of honoraria for election workers, particularly the teachers who served as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) in May, and a mall company’s “demand for damages” after the en banc canceled mall voting.
The commissioners also scored Bautista for his seeming inaction on certain matters, as seen in a “failure to urgently act” on the hacking of the Comelec website, and for making “unilateral declarations” to the media on matters they deemed must be decided on by the en banc, such as the barangay and SK elections and the controversial tweak in the script of the transparency server used in the May polls.
They said Bautista’s “assertion” that the barangay elections scheduled later this year must be postponed “places the entire organization in bad light as being lazy to conduct elections.”
Meanwhile, Bautista’s statement pending investigation that the script tweak was “merely cosmetic” was, they said, “in effect already an exoneration” of those responsible for it.
‘No solitary incident’
“This is not a solitary incident. The chairman should not grant interviews on matters not yet decided by the Commission en banc. He must make clear that his personal opinion is his alone and not attributable to the entire organization,” the commissioners said in their joint memorandum.
They also hit Bautista for his alleged inaction on certain matters, as well as for “unexplained absence” and unwillingness to participate in “crucial preparatory” meetings for the polls.
“I have prepared a response and met with several commissioners about this already,” Bautista said.
The memo was signed by all commissioners, who sit with Bautista at the en banc.
Commissioner Arthur Lim noted that he signed the memorandum “with a heavy heart and subject to” validation of material facts and “observance of due process and mutual courtesy.”
Commissioners Luie Tito Guia, Al Parreño and Sheriff Abas signed, joining Lim’s sentiment.
The other members of the en banc are Commissioners Christian Robert Lim and Rowena Guanzon.
Lim and Guanzon both clarified that they are not asking Bautista to resign from his post.
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