JPE blocks Comelec chief’s confirmation

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SENATE Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile on Wednesday blocked the confirmation of the appointment of lawyer Andres Bautista as chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and directed the latter to submit first the report of the poll body on the supposed 12 million missing votes in 2013.

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Enrile, during a hearing of the Committee on Constitutional Commissions and Offices of the Commission on Appointments (CA), asked Bautista about the actions taken by the Comelec on the letter of Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) Chairman Tita de Villa to then-Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. involving the case of 18,468 precincts that did not have any electronic or manual count of votes.

“I would like to know if the Comelec did any disposition of this report and why it was not published to the public at [the]time,” Enrile told Bautista.

Bautista, in response to Enrile’s queries, said he understood that transmission of poll results in 2013 was 77 percent and 33 percent were manually uploaded.

The Comelec chairman also told the CA panel that the allegedly missing results were not missing but simply not electronically transmitted.

“They were manually uploaded into the Canvassing and Consolidation System in accordance with published rules, in accordance with RA [Republic Act] 9369 [automated elections system law],” Bautista explained.

The Comelec report on the PPCRV letter, the poll body chief said, was already submitted to the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Elections System.

Enrile, however, insisted that Bautista should submit the report to the CA committee first before they consider his appointment.

“I will require you to submit a report to this commission before we confirm you because this involves a case of 18,486 precincts in the country during [those]election[s], representing about 12 million voters,” he also told Bautista.

Enrile cited stories about breakdown of communication during the 2013 elections, which did not only involve the system in the country but also overseas.

Aside from the allegedly uncounted votes, he asked about the 60-30-10 pattern wherein 60 percent of the votes went to administration senatorial candidates, 30 percent went to the opposition coalition United Nationalist Coalition (UNA) and 10 percent to independent bets.

“If you cannot produce that information to us, I will tell you now you will not be confirmed here,” Enrile told Bautista.

Bautista was appointed as Comelec chairman on May 4, replacing Brillantes, who had retired from the poll body.

The CA panel also suspended consideration of the appointment of Commissioner Sheriff Abbas, a nephew of Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, whose real name is Datucan Abbas.

Other oppositors to Bautista’s appointment were Lin Ilusorio Bildner, president of Philippine Communications Satellite Corp., and Jose Ma. Ozamis, chairman of audit of Philcomsat Holdings Corp.

In their joint sworn opposition, the two accused Bautista of “vindictive behavior’ toward Philcomsat and the Philippine Overseas Telecommunications Corp. when he was still the chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

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