THE camp of Senator Grace Poe decried the apparent squabbles that has divided the Commission on Elections (Comelec) which showed the public that poll officials are not singing the same song when it comes to the cases filed against Poe pending at the Supreme Court (SC).
On Friday, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista questioned the filing by Commissioner Rowena Guanzon of a 73-page comment supposedly by the poll body on the two petitions at the High Court questioning the Comelec’s disqualification of Poe.
“It’s alarming to see that the very institution tasked to oversee the conduct of orderly elections is in disarray. We are calling on the good Chairman of Comelec to put the house in order. We believe that the actions of Comm. Guanzon is wrong as she is usurping the powers reserved for the en banc. From day 1 we have been saying that certain personalities inside Comelec have political agendas against Sen. Poe,” Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian, Poe’s spokesman, said.
“Ipauubaya na lang namin sa Comelec yung kanilang internal squabble. Nakakalungkot isipin na ang isang institusyon katulad ng Comelec ay nag-aaway-away in broad daylight sa mata ng publiko pero ipapaubaya natin sa kanila yan kung paano nila ireresolba [We will leave it to the Comelec how it will resolve this issue. It is saddening that officials are openly quarrelling but let us see how they will solve this problem],” he added.
Bautista said it was “not only irregular but personally disrespectful” for Guanzon to file the comment before the Supreme Court.
In the comment, the poll body denied Poe’s claim that it committed grave abuse of discretion when the commission en banc upheld the decisions of two of its divisions canceling Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for president.
Bautista said in a memorandum that Guanzon filed the comment on Thursday without clearance from the Comelec en banc.
Bautista gave Guanzon 24 hours to explain her action.
“If found unsatisfactory, I may be constrained to inform the Supreme Court that the filing of the comment was unauthorized,” Bautista warned the commissioner.
Guanzon fired back at Bautista, saying that by issuing the memorandum and making it public, the poll body’s chief not only damaged the image of the institution but her “reputation as a Commissioner and as a lawyer.”
“I must emphasize that as a Commissioner, I am not a subordinate or employee of Chair Bautista and he has no administrative supervision or control over me,” Guanzon posted on her Twitter account.
“I am afraid it might prejudice our case before the Supreme Court. Our first priority should be the institution and the country that we serve faithfully,” she added.
Gatchalian said Bautista should investigate Guanzon because her actions undermined the electoral process and endangered democracy.
Gatchalian said the unfolding events show that there are indeed efforts to harass the senator.
He cited the issuance of the Comelec’s disqualification ruling on December 23, 2015. Poe was given only five days to file her answer.
“We were given technically a window ng isang araw para makakuha ng [we were given a one day window to secure a]TRO [temporary restraining order],” Gatchalian told reporters.
Because the tribunal was on recess, Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno issued the TRO.
According to Gatchalian, the Office of the Solicitor General sided with Poe, saying she is a natural-born Filipino.
He said the Comelec has not let up in its efforts to ease Poe out of the presidential race.
“Parang naging sole mission nila is i-delete si Senator Poe doon sa official list at sa balota. Nakakalungkot isipin na pinoproject nila na nasa batas ang kanilang ginagawa pero sila mismo sa loob ng Comelec ay hindi na ata nag kakasundo (It looks like their sole mission is to delete her name from the official ballot. They are projecting that their actions are within the bounds of the law but they themselves do not see eye to eye),” he said.