Comelec needs a chairman who can lead


THE outpouring of  statements and opinions on Senator Poe’s disqualification case from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has me totally confused.

First, the Comelec en banc (in full session) issued two resolutions junking  Senator Poe’s motions for reconsideration on her disqualification by the Second and First Divisions of the poll body on Dec. 1 and 11, respectively.

The language of the resolutions said in no uncertain terms that Comelec was nullifying the certificate of candidacy for president of Senator Poe.

Second, before the nation could fully decipher the implications (whether Ms. Poe is henceforth  scratched from the presidential race), Comelec chairman Andy Bautista emerged from his foxhole  to announce that he had dissented from the majority opinion of his peers and written his own lengthy opinion in dissent.

Stepping on the Comelec’s decision

By press release, by statement and by broadcast interviews, Bautista stepped on the otherwise declarative message of the commission, and questioned the wisdom and finality of its decisions, to plead, of all things, the case for Senator Poe.

Knowing full well how dissenting opinions can be milked for publicity in this country, Bautista has not stopped talking ever since.

He released his labored 53-page opinion to the media, as though he were unveiling an opinion by a justice of the Supreme Court.

Then he opined that Ms. Poe committed an “honest mistake” when she stated in her COC (certificate of candidacy) that she was a natural-born-citizen of the Philippines, and that she had the ten-year residency required by the Constitution.

Finally, as a public demand developed for Ms. Poe’s removal from the election ballot, Bautista declared that Senator Poe should be allowed to run for President.

Then he turned the spotlight on himself by stating how he agonized over his decision.
He said: “It was hard. There were pressures from many sides but I just followed my conscience, what I think was right and I made some balancing.”

In making his decision, he said he took into consideration other Filipinos who have left to pursue opportunities abroad and have become foreign citizens, and may desire to come home.

A concurring and dissenting opinion

And yet in saying this mouthful, Bautista stressed that he was concurring with the majority decision, even while dissenting from it.

He billed his 53-page opinion as “a Concurring and Dissenting Opinion.”

He agreed with the majority decisions of the two Comelec Divisions that Poe lacked the 10-year residency requirement under the Constitution.

“By 2016 national and local elections, she will only have been a resident for nine years and 10 months at the most, and not 10 years and 11 months as what she claimed in her 2015 COC,” the opinion stated.

Bautista added that Ms. Poe is covered by the 1935 Constitution which does not state that foundlings like her should be considered natural-born citizens.

“It is common knowledge that the Philippines has adopted the principle of jus sanguinis – citizenship is determined by blood relationship,” he said. Hence, Senator Poe is not a nautral-born Filipino citizen.

Asking Congress to recognize all foundings

As if all this hemming and hawing were not enough, Bautista pointedly asked Congress to pass a law that would declare all foundlings as natural-born citizens of the Philippines.
He waxed sentimental about the plight of foundlings in the absence of a law, how they are consigned to the ranks of the stateless.

But the stark reality was plain. Bautista was dumping on the decisions that the Comelec commissioners had reached, deliberated, debated, and finally voted on collectively and unanimously.

He was publicly holding up under doubt the decision of the commission.
He was publicly sympathizing with Senator Poe on her predicament.

A Comelec with resolve, judgment and integrity

Did some people talk to Bautista to wring from him this agonizing act of abdication?
Does the man have no spine to lean on when he has to make a difficult decision?

Does the Comelec, with seven commissioners, not have enough members to interpret the Constitution and its mandate to Comelec properly?

I find these thoughts unpleasant to entertain because as a nation, we stand today on the verge of a watershed election in our nation’s history.

This is a time when we truly need an election commission that can effectively manage and administer national elections.

We need it to act with resolve and show its judgment, fairness and integrity.
It needs a chairman who not only can chair meetings, but can lead our principal institution for suffrage.


Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. COMELEC’s job is to make sure the people’s voice are heard and the election is smooth. Right now, they are doing neither.

    Grace Poe is someone leading the election poll, she has strong people’s backing. COMELEC has no business silencing those people’s voice and taking Grace Poe off the ballot based on handful of COMELEC official’s opinion. It is a disgrace that a handful of people can override 20+% of the country’s people’s voice.

    By doing that, and with all the dissenting opinions and conflict of political interest, COMELEC also throw this election into chaos, and ensure a large portion of Philippines citizen will be disenfranchised.

    All the people supporting COMELEC’s decision are simply afraid that their preferred candidate cannot defeat Grace Poe through a fair election. All the people are simply supporting the dirty old Philippine politics, getting rid of candidates before people’s voice can be heard.

    Mr. Ramos said it best. Let the people decide, not a handful of people.

  2. Hugas kamay lang yan si Bautista. Eh campaign manager yan ni Roxas sa pagka senador noon. Ang plano, sibakin si Poe tapos naman si Binay. Tignan nyo, uupakan nila si Binay sa graft charges laban sa kanya

  3. Careful, Mr. Bautista. You are not yet confirmed.

    By the looks of it we have a COMELEC Chairman who has no balls and whose only plan is to delay all processes for his own benefit!

    Get another Comelec head! Get that feisty Guanzon!

  4. I find the opinion of the Comelec Chairman very disturbing at a time when our country needs leaders who will unite the different and incoherent factions that are prevalent in our society right now. Is he running for an elective position? Is he playing it safe? In the vernacular, we describe his posture as “Tabla Manalo.” If Grace Poe wins, he will be in her graces because of his stance; and if another candidate wins, he will still find himself in a similar situation. I find it also disheartening that being the Chairman that he would publicly come up with a dissenting opinion on some of the points raised. He, as the leader of that body, should have accepted the majority decision and simply kept his mouth shut. As a lawyer himself, he should have upheld the law. And to even suggest that Congress pass a law that would declare all foundlings as natural born citizens to serve the purpose and tailor fit the law particularly for an individual at this time is undermining the 1935 Constitutional provision which, even if passed, would still not cover Grace Poe. I am not a lawyer but the way I understand decisions promulgated in court proceedings, documentary evidence takes precedence over verbal arguments; neither conscience nor statesmanship should be part of the equation. The COC speaks for itself. Bautista himself admits that she made an “honest mistake.” The mere fact that you opined that there was a “MISTAKE,” then you should have stood by the letter of the law. Likewise, as a senator, she had a battery of lawyers who should have given their counsel within the bounds of the law and not what best suits her. Or maybe, they have, but the people around her with bested interests advised her otherwise.

    Another point that I could not think through is the fact that, without looking at personalities, for our country to be run by a president who has denounced her citizenship and pledged allegiance to another country. And then again, renege on that allegiance and revert back to her previous status. It is like changing clothes to fit the occasion. As they would say, “Only in the Philippines.” Is there a shortage of good leaders amongst the 100 million or so Filipinos? As the saying goes, “There is a right time and a right place for everything.”

  5. Walang puwang ang awa dito. Sundin lang ang batas, ang constitution. Kaya tuloy ang Pilipino ayaw na sumunod sa batas dahil sa ganitong mga mataas na official ng bansa na walang kwentang lider.

  6. Comelec chairman Andy Bautista comes up short in the most important decisions he has to make as leader and head of the Comelec in the most and perhaps the only job of the Comelec, to ensure a clean and honest elections. #YOUHAVEONEJOB

  7. He cannot lead if he has no balls, minimum prerequisite of a leader. A good leader can and will make the right decisions even if these decisions are not popular or will not make him popilar.

  8. Now, I understand why the Comelec Enbanc took longer to release their decision than the 1st and 2nd divisions. I am very disappointed with the vote and opinion of Bautista because he clearly missed the point of the cases filed against GP. By his own admission, he concurs that GP is not a natural-born Filipino and has not fulfilled the 10-year residency requirement. And yet, he voted out of compassion for foundlings. We cannot afford to have a Comelec chairman who doesn’t have the guts to uphold the rule of law. Otherwise, it reflects poorly on the integrity of the upcoming elections.

  9. Comelec Chairman Bautista is playing politics or is just well mannered person in delivering a message to Grace Poe that she is not a natural born citizen according to existing laws of this land. The problem with Grace Poe is she does not want to understand. Take not when Grace Poe first run for senator in 2013 she did not mention that part of crusade is for all foundling child like her. Even at the time she filed her COC she never mentioned in her advocacy to fight for flight of all foundling child in this country. It was when citizenship became an issue that she changed her tone to fight for the right of the foundling. Grace Poe is the first and only candidate for the president of this country who have renounced her Filipino citizenship to become a naturalized American. For the first time, her act became a symbol of nationalism and patriotism. It is only Grace Poe who claims she can serve better than any presidential candidate even she does not have any credentials to show. The worst she claim that only her can make a promise to us but she forgot that once in her lifetime renounce her Filpino citizenship in spite of her daily recitations of the Panatang Makabayan during her younger student days.

  10. Mukhang sila Commisioner Bautista and Christian Lim lang ang may prinsipyo. Yung Comm. Guanzon halatang halata pinag-iinitan at Iniipit si Grace Poe.

    Alam namin storya at King magkano ang kinita Ng mga Commisioner sa automation by elections. Utang na loob nila Kay Roxas kinita nila.

  11. Andy Bautista is a “disturbed” Comelec Chair and is only sowing confusion with his confusing opinions. Bad sign. It means he does not have the decisions-making character needed for leadership. Smartmatic will chew him into small pieces come election time.

  12. A decision for any arbitration is based on existing laws as provided by the governing institutions. It is interpreted through hard evidence presented by both opposing parties.

    A personal opinion that is not within the parameters of existing law forbids fair and equal judgment.

    The Honorable Chairman Andy Bautista, being a lawyer himself, knows the dividing lines for his dissenting opinion. The justification he states level his sagging popularity within the Comelec. However, the method bounced back for favoring the petitioner.

    I guess, the Honorable Chairman should revisit his integrity vis-a-vis to the institution he represents.

    • He has to ask Aquino for his integrity back, Maybe Aquino will give it back but pretty sure he would have to give back the money.

  13. Matthew Parkes on

    There are no leaders in the Philippines which is why this nation continues to decline, beyond being propped up by OFW remittances.

    The real issue is this: Why is the Philippines utterly incapable of producing leadership? The corollary to that is a question as to what aspects of Philippine society and culture actively militate against the development of any form of Philippine leadership.

  14. This is the kind of person not worthy of their position… had he ever heard of ..majority decision…..he should be impeached asap…

  15. Bautista, deceiption is not an honest mistake. The second birth certificate which is spurious. Sponsored by the bureau of immigration, stating that she was a Natural born child of Susan and FPJ, was the first deliberate deceiption for her dual citizenship. How can you say that it was an honest mistake ? Just recently discovered this machination by the BI. The Comelec as a collegial body has spoken and your prime duty is to resonate this, not your opinion which is sour graphing. Kung may delikadesa ka mag resign na ka ngayon!!!

  16. yolanda v. encarnacion on

    Mr. Makabenta did not mince words on Chairman Bautista. In one of my comments in FB, I asked if Bautista passed the bar with flying colors. After reading your column today, I guess what I have asked reflects on who Bautista really is. Considering the decision was unanimous, Bautista should have kept quiet and abide with the decision of the commissioners. What he did only created more problems than solutions in the determining of what is the difference between right and wrong. Our Constitution is very clear in it’s qualification standard for persons who aspire for the presidency. The two most important factors are the issues on natural born citizen and the 10 year residency. There is no ifs and buts when we follow the prescribed law to the letter. If we invoke the “voice of the people as the voice of God” and sympathy, we will end up a chaotic nation with psychotic citizens.

  17. She is a Senator. Why didnt she introduce a bill to make foundlings natural born citizens. Also why doesnt she use her real surname wnen campaigning?

  18. Sir,

    Chairman bautista with his foundling legal reasoning on poe case can be truly an agonizing situation for him.

    The legal acrobatic exercises he showed as if he want’s to be part of the legal mumbo jumbo team of sen. grace poe and by qualification at the same time as comelec chairman, makes his legal competency as if no malice for a professional lawmaker of no intent to mislead and deceive anybody including the authorities wherein he highlighted his dissenting opinion leaving the majority opinion at the backburner.

    Why it is so?

    Why chairman bautista as if he scholarly explaining to media practitioners poe’s disqualification and telegraphing the option left to poe’s camp.
    Instead of focusing on the constitutional principles shrouded on poe’s case, undoubtedly, he got a pontius pilate complex and toying the idea of “vox populi vox dei”! Never mind the Law of the Land!

    Hey! Hey! practice justice and don’t complicate matters. It’s plain a simple; “ignorance of the law excuses no one”

    Pardon me, it’s stupidity in the highest order!

    Kailangan po talaga natin ng isang Comelec Chairman na di kayang e prostitute.

    Merry Christmas!

  19. I agree with you. “Honest mistakes” done by Ms. Poe should have been corrected immediately even before she filed her coc as senator years back.

  20. Bautista is of doubtful personality and sounds paranoid. Whilst it is his right to come out with his opinion but he sounded like over ruling the majority decision of the other commissioners because of his love of disgrace poe. This kind of a leader should not stay long in his job and must be booted out.

  21. A mistake is always a mistake whether “honest” or not, “intentional” or not. It’s just the same as with a person stealing a peso and stealing a million pesos… Still a thief. There should be no excuse for that!

  22. Chairman Bautista is suppose to chair the comelec without bias, but then he sowing chaos. If I read right, he was once a dean of a law school (ntellectuals lead Law Schools if I remember right)and read his few articles in another paper before he was appointed chairman. Yet he is nothing but a partisan commissioner.
    Mr. Chairman, if you don’t know it yet, the comelec is a non-partisan body of the government.

  23. victor m. hernandez on

    A Chairman does vote except on a tie. If it is a unanimous decision, it does not matter whether he is concurrence or in dissent. Hence, in such a case, his opinion is unnecessary. His dissent only creates unnecessary dissonance. He should stop talking already.

  24. Bert O. Romero on

    Chairman Bautista was riding the currents of two rivers. He never had it so good. Knowing that the decision of the two divisions – disqualifying Ms. Llamanzares – would carry the day, issuing a dissenting opinion would make him appear more humane and judicious. He therefore had nothing to lose but everything to gain by issuing a dissenting opinion which utterly failed to contribute anything to the enlightenment of the issues but succeeded in projecting himself as a kind and broad-minded COMELEC Chairman.

  25. My opinion :
    Comelec should not even put both Duterte and Poe on the ballot. They are the real nuisance candidates.

  26. Bautista the two faced commissioner. He is an insult to the intelligence of the Filipino people, the laughing stock of the nation. How embarrassing he should resign.

  27. I agree with the the title of the column. How can we have a chairman of the Comelc who cannot even defend the decision of the body he is leading? It almost appears that this person is taking a cue from somebody or group. The electorate must really be keen and be careful of the machinations of some group.

  28. Di ba dean pa yata ng law school yan si Andy? I just hope meron pang mag enroll sa law school kun saan sya naging dean. But judging from my own personal experiences, karamihan ng nasa academe like andy ay laging naniniwala na sila lang ang tama at gusto nila lagi na adopt ng lahat ang kanilang paniwala. Sila ang mga tinatawag na pencil pushers – na ang katotohanan at ang mundo revolves around their theories and what they wrote maski ang mga ito ay malayo sa katotohanan. Dahil walang karanasan sa praktikal na buhay or no street smart sense, they live in their own glass houses.

    The side effect will be for the other commissioners to begin railroading his decisions or pronouncements because the eunuch have put the legal wisdom and competence of his colleagues.

  29. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Bautista doesn’t deserve any minute staying as chairman of Comelec. He is a lawyer and understandably should know the law especially the Philippine Constitution. He knows that one cannot mix two extreme matters such as concurrence or dissension. What he has done is to contradict himself and at the same time show his ineptness to lead. His position is not based on conscience but accommodation (money that is blinding and hard to refuse). All of the respect remaining in him is all gone. God bless the Philippines.

  30. The Comelec chair is appointed to carry out the agenda of the ruling powers, just like Melo and Brillantes before him. The law doesn’t matter. Only fools can play along with our Comelec and Electoral system as it is today.

  31. Ruben V. Calip on

    What about the new PCOS machines that Bautista said would have SOME of the security features that the earlier Comelec chairmen had ordered disabled? All the safeguards required by the Automated Election System Act should be present in any AES election. And I agree with your columnists former Comelec Comm Gus Lagman, IT and AES experts Nelson Celis and Lito Averia that the process should be TRANSPARENT as required by law!!!!

    • Leodegardo Pruna on

      Let us hope that Bautista would not be selling his soul to the devil. We are a suffering people because the devil triumphed in 2010 through his deception and emotional machination. God bless the Philippines.

  32. i strongly agree with you sir, we need a comelec with strong will and power not to be influence by any side of evil, left or right evil. it is the most temptous unit of government . and if our commissioner will not do justice then our election will be the same and wasted years will come.

  33. Comelec chairman Bautista is just following the popular clamor of allowing the voters to decide after all the cacophony of legal jargon from know it all people who has the temerity to decide for us.That is his conscience. Dont vote for her come election day if you believe Poe is an alien,as simple as that but dont deny us the opportunity to decide if she is a capable choice among the presidential wannabes.You already wrote in your column that the filipino electorates are desperately seeking an alternative candidate in our rotten system.

    • We should use that logic for everything, Police want to ticket your vehicle for a violation, have a vote everyone in the car vote against the police.

      We don’t need no stinkin laws, lets just let the people decide.

      Not much point to having a congress if we aren’t going to follow the laws set forth by them, don’t need a constitution either if we are going to ignore what’s written on it.

      Don’t feel like paying for stuff you want, just vote against the owner of the shop, I’m sure they won’t mind.

  34. Mr. Makabenta, Chairman Bautista’s recent posturing is no surprise nor confusing, if at all. It simply is another reflection of the Filipino’s lack of courage of implementing the law!

    • simply is another reflection of the Filipino’s lack of courage of implementing the law!

      Had 4 years of watching De Lima at the Justice Dept ignore all the pork barrel thieves in the senate and house of rep’s except of course the 3 opposition senators that were jailed.

      The Ombudsman seems reluctant to go after anyone connected to the Liberal Party as well. She is more of a Liberal Party hit man than anything else.

  35. Bautista is as confused and bewildered as Grace Poe herself that the Commission is acting like a deer facing a headlight crossing the street at night. Bautista has been averting on his decision on whether to delist Poe from the list until the SC decides on Poe’s appeal. Bautista ‘s indecisiveness puts the timing of election so fluid and the populace in turmoil.

    • Leodegardo Pruna on

      If Bautista still value respect, now is the time for him to resign. He has lost his credibility to lead Comelec with the way he is deciding. God bless the Philippines.

  36. Bautista is playing politics, plain and simple and, therefore, should be booted out! After all these years, same ‘crap’ and, yet, we expect better election results?

    To encourage other compatriots to go home and, probably, run for political positions is on the positive side. Especially, the ‘experienced’ ones. (This is what the retired people in China are aptly called), However, I’d like to ask Bautista how many, does he think, among our compatriots are “too ambitious”, like Poe, to run for an elective office amidst the dirty politics involve in the country? It might encourage former Filipinos, but is it worth the sacrifice of the strict provisions of the Philippine Constitution, just to accommodate any of them? What more, if we are talking of one who doesn’t have the proper credentials to hold the No.1 executive position in the country, because his/her tract record of employment and performance doesn’t fit. It’s a known fact that many members of Congress were elected into office only because of ‘derivative’ popularity.

    To qualify a ‘clearly’ disqualified senator and candidate for president will surely erode the faith people, particularly lawyers, have in the Philippine Constitution because of ‘politicians’ like Bautista.

    To Poe, there are a thousand nobler ways to help the Filipino people without being a politician. Besides, she will be doing a great service to the Filipino people which, in the first place, she would like to do, if she desists from running for president. (Perhaps, running for an executive position in one of the major cities in Metro Manila fits her well).

    Finally, if she won’t succeed in this personal and ‘political’ battle in her life, it’s probably worth praying and she might be ‘Wurtzbach’!

    • I’ve been wondering why Ms. Poe is so insistent in becoming the president of our land? (of which she firmly believes). It seems that she has a personal “ulterior” motive that has been creeping in one corner of her heart and mind since her father (FPJ) died, that she alone knows. P. Akialamero is correct. Ms. Poe can find a thousand ways to serve her countrymen aside from being a political leader or a predident at that! As her cousin previously said: “It’s not yet the perfect time for. She has to learn more of executive management and other related functions inherent to the position. Being a president is far more than being a senator. (Come to think of it Ms. Poe).

  37. Bautista was appointed by Aquino to Comelec chair.

    All the Aquino appointee’s will disregard their duty to the people if told to.

    De Lima is a perfect example of what to expect from a Aquino appointee

    Of the 21 pork barrel thieves in the senate she only jailed 3 opposition senators.
    Of the hundreds of House members who stole the pork barrel fund none were jailed.

    Is it really still a surprise when a Aquino appointee shows their total submissiveness to what Aquino wants ?

    • Leodegardo Pruna on

      Submissiveness is one thing, but the bigger thing is MONEY. Look at how physically and materially they have grown? God bless the PHilippines.

  38. Bautista should resign period.

    He heads the most important institution for our elections. But he does not know head or tails of the basic rule of thumb in leadership.

    As they say either you “lead, follow, or just get out of the way”.

    Give the Filipino people a chance to have a credible election exercise.

    Chairman Bautista just get out of the way please.

  39. Me too, I am really confuse about Bautista’s dissenting opinion. And why was the used of foreign passport was not mentioned and discussed. My only problem with Grace Poe is her being not trustworthy. The foundling issue just came into play when she is to be disqualified. I known a lot of foundlings that they really want want to find their biological parents for closure, unlike Poe only for convenience, meaning if she will not be disqualified she does not care, just like retaining her Filipino citizenship, I don’t really see sincerity from her, it is always for convenience, which is hard to convince smart Filipino voters to vote for her.

    • Truly you are right Sir. “If she really wants to find her biological parents( this is the age of internet) she can find them but then she will be ashamed to use her biological parents last name (even disregards Llamanzares). What an opportunist !

    • WHY would you be confused??… the vote is a majority decision…. majority overpowers a minority so his dissenting(confusing us) is very irrelevant and of no value…. so get moving….

  40. Suppose the candidate is unknown and not influential, do you think he can avail as a defense ” An Honest Mistake ” filed on his or her COC? It took them three years to discover their mistake and the chairman agrees with it. Is Bautista naïve or just join the fray for popularity. The true honest mistake is in the Miss Universe brouhaha, and the host acknowledged his mistake and corrected it in less than three{3minutes} not three years!

    • I agree with “Enigma”. This “honest” mistake should have been corrected before she filed her candidacy as senator.

    • We need a leader who has balls, doesn’t give in to pressure, uncompromising and incorruptible.. qualities which unfortunately the current Comelec chairman doesn’t have.