Former Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn criticized Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Sixto Brillantes for bias in supposedly disfavoring the conduct of a recall election in the city.
Hagedorn is reacting to Brillantes’ charge that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) engaged in “politicking” after it pronounced that the Comelec has enough funds to conduct a recall election in Puerto Princesa City.
The said recall election was proposed amid calls for the removal of incumbent Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron.
“Why the chairman of our Comelec is so stubborn in denying the will of the people of Puerto Princesa through the recall process is already beyond comprehension,” Hagedorn said.
The former mayor added that Brillantes’ response to the DBM is “not only contradictory and misleading, but [also]shot through with holes”.
For one, Hagedorn underlined that it was his brother, Rep. Douglas Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa City, who made the inquiry before the DBM regarding the availability of funds for the conduct of a recall election.
He also noted that he is not backing the conduct of a recall election for his own political motives.
“The record would also show that right after Mayor Lucilo Bayron was elected, I exhorted my followers for all of us to throw our full support behind his administration,” Hagedorn claimed.
“However, there have been many issues against Mayor Bayron’s management of local affairs such as rising criminality, drop in tourism and environmental degradation, among others, that dismayed a cross-section of Puerto Princesa residents [enough]to initiate the recall move against him,” Hagedorn told The Manila Times.
The cited issues allegedly prompted 40,000 voters in the city to sign a petition seeking the conduct of a recall election on the ground of loss of confidence in Bayron, according to him.
“Thus, for the Comelec to claim that I am behind this move or [the]inquiry at the DBM is both unfair and misleading,” Hagedorn maintained.
Earlier, DBM undersecretary Luz Cantor, in a letter-reply dated June 9 sent to Rep. Douglas Hagedorn, confirmed that the Comelec has at least P3.6 billion in extra funds.
Cantor also underlined that the poll body is accorded fiscal autonomy, empowering it to decide to allocate the said funds to conduct recall elections.
Hagedorn, as such, maintained that the DBM was merely replying to an official inquiry made by a member of Congress, dispelling suspicions that the DBM was acting with a partisan political motive.
“Where is politicking in that when it was clear that the DBM is merely stating the facts as raised by an official inquiry from a member of Congress?” Hagedorn asked.
“To my knowledge, there are about 30 petitions also for recall being prepared by voters from other provinces and other political parties,” he added.
“Thus, for chairman Brillantes to drag into the issue my being a member of the Liberal Party (LP) is not only irrelevant but unfair to the LP. The issue here is the Comelec’s refusal to discharge its mandate under the Constitution citing all sorts of reasons now found to be without basis and not my being a party mate of [President] Benigno Aquino 3rd,” Hagedorn retorted.
“If there is anyone playing politics here, it would not be the DBM or the LP but under the circumstances, the chairman of the Comelec. But despite our differences, I continue to hold him (Brillantes) in high esteem,” he stressed.