Additional power to Comelec chairman 'absurd': Inting

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 15 2022 04:33 PM

Comelec commissioner Socorro Inting and chairman Saidamen Pangarungan. ABS-CBN News/File
Comelec commissioner Socorro Inting and chairman Saidamen Pangarungan. ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Socorro Inting called as "absurdity" the additional power granted to chairman Saidamen Pangarungan to declare certain areas under the poll body's control. 

Inting on Tuesday resigned as chairperson of the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Concerns (CBFSC) following the promulgation of Comelec Resolution 10777, which empowers the Comelec Chairperson to give gun ban exemptions and place areas under Comelec control.

Inting said the panel has been rendered "pointless" and "inutile."

In her dissenting opinion to Comelec Resolution 10777 obtained by ABS-CBN News, Inting explained why she voted against the amendments.

"Those who obtain their exemptions from the Chairman based on meritorious and urgent cases are placed at an unfair advantage compared to those applicants who underwent the so-called rigorous process of the CBFSC, whether their applications were granted or, worse, denied... Such absurdity should not be countenanced by our rules,” Inting said.

Inting also questioned what constitutes a "meritorious and urgent" case.

"Such usage begs the following questions: What are these meritorious and urgent cases? What are the parameters or factors to be considered in order to classify a particular case as meritorious and urgent?” 

Inting said the panel has a stringent and reasonable procedure for the issuance of a certificate of authority.

She raised a similar objection to authorizing the chairman to place areas under Comelec control.

"The phraseology of this item is too general. Approving this provision in the proposed resolution will in effect empower the chairman to place any election area of concern under Comelec Ccontrol," Inting said.

She said Comelec Resolution 10757 classifies areas of concern into 4 categories: green for area with no security concerns, yellow for area of concern, orange for area of immediate concern, and red for area of grace concern. 

Inting noted only red areas may warrant the motu proprio declaration of Comelec control under their rules.

"Granting to the chairman the power of pacing any election area of concern under Comelec control, without regard to the existence of the above color categories, may possibly lead to an absurd situation wherein an area of concern is declared under Comelec control despite non-existence of the grounds for the declaration of Comelec Control under Section 3 of Comelec Resolution No. 10757," she said.

On Wednesday, Pangarungan said he would not abuse the additional powers.

"I would also like to restate that the authority vested in me will only be used when there is an extreme need and as recommended by the PNP and AFP. As of now, I have not placed any area under Comelec control. It is my fervent hope that there will be no need for the exercise of such authority,” Panarungan said.

Inting was one of the 3 commissioners, along with Aimee Ferolino and Marlon Casquejo, who dissented the promulgation of Comelec Resolution No. 10777.

They were outvoted by Pangarungan, George Garcia, Aimee Neri, and Rey Bulay, the Comelec newcomers.