OSG asks SC to intervene vs Comelec's 'lack of transparency'

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 13 2022 06:57 PM

New Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Saidamen Balt Pangarungan (4th from left) poses for a photo with the poll body’s commissioners (from left) Aimee Torrefranca-Neri, Aimee Ferolino Ampoloquio, Socorro B. Inting, Marlon Casquejo, and  Rey E. Bulay during the turn-over ceremony at the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros Manila on March 9, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file
New Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Saidamen Balt Pangarungan (4th from left) poses for a photo with the poll body’s commissioners (from left) Aimee Torrefranca-Neri, Aimee Ferolino Ampoloquio, Socorro B. Inting, Marlon Casquejo, and  Rey E. Bulay during the turn-over ceremony at the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros Manila on March 9, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA — The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on Wednesday filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to "faithfully execute... election laws, rules, and regulations" amid recent criticisms about its alleged lack of transparency.

In a press release, the OSG said it filed before SC a petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus against Comelec over alleged violation of some provisions of the Omnibus Election Code.

"Comelec... has so far fallen short of its constitutional duty... requiring transparency in its conduct of electoral preparations... when it barred witnesses during the printing of official ballots; performed the configuration and preparation of SD cards sans accredited observers; and refused open access of source code for proper review," the statement read, citing Solicitor General Jose Calida's "educated and professional opinion."

The Comelec drew flak last January for barring observers during the printing of official ballots amid the COVID-19 surge driven by the omicron variant.

As a compromise, the poll body, in an unprecedented move, conducted a random sampling of ballots to appease the poll watchdogs and candidates.

The Comelec likewise said CCTV footage during the "observer blackout" in January would be made available upon request.

According to the OSG press release, it asked the SC to "heed the call of the people to adopt countervailing measures suggested by OSG to further safeguard the integrity of the 2022 elections."

The press release did not specify the "countervailing measures" OSG included in the petition. 

This is not the first time the OSG challenged Comelec before the SC. The office likewise sought to invalidate Comelec's memorandum of agreement with Rappler.