Comelec defers action on PDP-Laban faction's plea for reopening of COC filing

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 05 2022 06:01 PM | Updated as of Jan 05 2022 07:00 PM

MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has deferred action on a petition by the Cusi wing of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party for the postponement of ballot printing and reopening of the period for filing of candidacies for the upcoming elections.

“The en banc deferred resolution of the petition for the reopening of the period for filing (of certificates of candidacy). It is expected that the matter will be resolved next week, with all points raised by the petition being squarely addressed,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said Wednesday.

Atty. Melvin Matibag, secretary-general of the PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, earlier said, “The party believes that the COMELEC should re-open and allow the filing of COC’s for national and local candidates in view of the fact that it cannot, and should not, proceed with printing of ballots for the 2022 elections while several cases affecting candidates and party-lists are still pending before it.”

He added, “We are asking the COMELEC to review its self-imposed deadlines in the interest of the electorate. This petition will benefit everyone and should be intently considered by the Commission.”

In an interview Tuesday with the ABS-CBN News Channel, Jimenez said granting the petition would, in effect, “reset” the period for filing of COC on October 1 to 8, 2021 back to square one.

“It’s taken this long to get to the tentative list of 15 presidential candidates. And if we open that now, we can expect that a whole bunch of people will start filing again. And when they do that, then we’ll have to go through the entire process from day 1,” Jimenez said.

Poll watchdogs Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) and Kontra Daya criticized the petition for disrupting the election calendar of activities.

“Hindi sapat na rason na wala na silang kandidato ngayon para sa darating na halalan para sa pinakamataas na posisyon ng eleksyon para magpetisyon sa Comelec na buksan ulit ang filing ng COC,” stressed Lente executive director Atty. Ona Caritos.

(Not having a candidate for the country's highest position in the coming elections is not a sufficient reason to re-open the filing of Certificates of Candidacy.) 

Kontra Daya lead convenor and University of the Philippines professor Danilo Arao described the petition as “so laughable.”

“We call on Comelec at this particular point to dismiss it altogether because it's practically a nuisance position," he said. "We’re now moving forward with the schedule for the elections, and to have it stymied by such a nuisance petition is basically unacceptable.”

PDP-Laban was unable to field standard bearers for the May 9, 2022 elections following a leadership row between the Cusi faction, which is backed by President Rodrigo Duterte, and the group led by presidential aspirant Senator Manny Pacquiao and Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III.

The matter on who is the “true PDP-Laban” is now pending with the Comelec.

The poll body is finalizing the official list of candidates ahead of the printing of ballots next week.

POLL POSTPONEMENT

Meanwhile, a petition urging the poll body to postpone the elections until 2025, filed by the National Coalition for Life and Democracy (NCLD), was not tackled in the en banc session, according to Jimenez.

“The matter may be calendared for next week’s en banc,” he said.

The group cited alleged violations of COVID-19 protocols by 2022 aspirants during their respective “meet-and-greet” and caravans with supporters.

NCLD said these activities not only placed the “life, health and safety of the poor and innocent in jeopardy,” but also made “vote-buying” possible. 

“Experience in recent months and the present situation demands continuing observance of health protocols particularly prohibition on social gatherings and overcrowding,” stated the petition filed last month.

Jimenez on Tuesday assured the public that all no-election scenarios will not succeed.

“The Comelec sees no reason to postpone the election," he said. "They can file all of the petitions they want. As long as the Comelec doesn’t grant the request to delay the elections, then tuloy ang halalan. Hindi tayo ma-de-delay."

(As long as the Comelec doesn't grant the request to delay the elections, it will proceed. We will not be delayed.)

“Because if you want to postpone the elections, then what you want to do is to ignore the Constitution. How can you ignore the Constitution? All government authority basically emanates from the Constitution. And if you want the Constitution to be ignored simply because you want to stay in power, then you have a big, big problem.”

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