- Bishop Pabillo: Is the Comelec compromised?

News & Interviews
10 June 2019

By Faye Orellana |

MANILA, Philippines — Is the Commission on Elections (Comelec) compromised?

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo asked on Monday citing the technical issues during the recently concluded midterm polls.

“Is Comelec still an independent body, or is it already co-opted by the present regime? Many people cannot help asking these questions after this midterm election,” Pabillo said in a Facebook post.

In his post, Pabillo pointed five issues that hounded the 2019 May elections – the designation of the administration-allied Nacionalista Party as the dominant minority party, the seven-hour vote transmission delay, and the defective vote-counting machines (VCMs) and SD cards.

Pabillo also hit the Comelec for its failure to conduct senatorial debates and its move to approve the substitution bid of former Chairman of National Youth Commission (NYC) Ronald Cardema to become a representative of youth party-list Duterte Youth.

He said these made the poll body just another tool of the administration.

“These glaring issues against the Comelec are indicative that it is no longer an independent body but has become another tool of the present administration to further its agenda. It has a lot of hard explanations to do to clear its name!” Pabillo said.

The Comelec has already clarified the issues that Pabillo raised on several occasions.

According to Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, the dominant majority and minority parties were selected based on the number of their incumbent elected officials, the number of candidates fielded for the midterm polls, and their “numerical strength in the regions,” among others.

As for the 7-hour delay in the transmission of votes, Jimenez said the transmission server encountered a “bottleneck” issue during the elections.

Meanwhile, Comelec Chair Sheriff Abas explained that a debate among senatorial bets was not plausible for this year’s polls given the number of candidates and time constraints,
Based on the record of the commission, a total of 62 individuals ran in the midterm polls this year.

With regards to the issue on the SD cards and VCMs, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said she believes the supplier of the defective SD cards should not be paid in full.

More than 1000 SD cards and nearly 1,000 VCMs encountered issues on election day itself.

It was also Guanzon who clarified that it was the application for substitution of Cardema that was approved by the poll body, and not the substitution itself.

According to Guanzon, a hearing will be set before the Comelec to discuss Cardema’s case.

Guanzon is the lone dissenter while Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia abstained. (Editor: Eden Estopace)