Last 2 Comelec debates in limbo over venue payment woes

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 21 2022 09:44 PM | Updated as of Apr 22 2022 09:21 AM

Scenes during the second Commission on Elections’ #PilipinasDebates2022: The Turning Point at the Sofitel Tent in Pasay City on April 3, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Scenes during the second Commission on Elections’ #PilipinasDebates2022: The Turning Point at the Sofitel Tent in Pasay City on April 3, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATED) — Will the last two debates sponsored by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) push through over the weekend?

In a document obtained by ABS-CBN News, Sofitel Philippine Plaza has threatened to "suspend all its remaining deliverables under the event contract" unless organizer Impact Hub coughs up P14 million as partial payment for their services. 

Impact Hub is the company tapped by Comelec to mount its series of debates dubbed as "PiliPinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point."

Sofitel Philippine Plaza was the venue for the March 19 and 20 and April 3 debates. The last leg of the Comelec debates is set on Saturday and Sunday. 

In its demand letter dated April 20, Sofitel said Impact Hub's Celeste Eden Rondario repeatedly issued them bouncing checks. 

"Despite fulfilling its obligations under the event contract, and despite its entitlement to full payment by today, our client has not received the proceeds of the following postdated checks, which have a combined value of P14,095,000," the company said through its lawyers.

The letter stated that under their contract, Impact hub Manila committed to pay a total of P20,595,000.00 in 4 tranches on March 16, March 30, April 15 and April 20 for the entire series of debates.

Sofitel gave Impact Hub an ultimatum of until 12 noon Thursday to settle its P14 million dues or else it will be “constrained to suspend all its remaining deliverables under the event contract.”

The letter also said that their recourse is without prejudice to any civil or criminal actions that they may have to take to protect their client’s interest.

Rondario refused to answer calls to address the controversy.

The Comelec en banc is set to hold on Friday a press conference.

"Siguro kasama yan sa mababanggit namin. Ayoko lang i-preempt kung ano yung magiging mapag-uusapan dun. Magandang maabangan ng mga kababayan natin yung mga babanggitin dun sa press conference na yun," Commissioner George Garcia told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo Thursday night.

Asked if Sofitel will still be the venue of the debates as of Thursday night, he said, "Yes, 'yan pa rin po. Wala naman pong nagbago. Kaya lang, makiki-antabayanan n'yo po yung announcement ng Comelec bukas."

Pressed if the scheduled events will push through at all, the official said, "Bukas po, abangan niyo yung announcement ng Comelec."

Garcia said the issue about the checks should be addressed by the account owner.

"Ang guarantee ko sa inyo, ang Comelec ay hindi natalbugan. Kung merong ibang natalbugan, baka may relasyon dun sa mga i-a-announce namin bukas," he said. 

- with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

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