The verbal wrangling between two Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials continued Monday with Commissioner Rowena Guanzon accusing Chairman Juan Andres Bautista of being partial to Sen. Grace Poe.
Bautista countered by saying that Guanzon was only authorized to draft a comment on the petitions against Poe, not to submit a comment to the Supreme Court where the Comelec en banc’s decision disqualifying the senator from the presidential race was appealed.
“During the Jan. 5 meeting of the en banc, Commissioner Guanzon was tasked, together with the [Comelec] law department to create a draft on the three petitions of Contreras, Tatad and Valdez, and Commissioner [Christian Arthur] Lim, also together with the law department, a draft petition for the Elamparo petition,” Bautista said, referring to Estrella Elamparo, one of those who sought Poe’s disqualification.
He said the poll body can open the records and minutes of the en banc to prove his claim.
Guanzon earlier said that the preparations and filing of the comment was approved by the Comelec en banc.
Bautista questioned Guanzon’s filing of a 73-page comment to the petition filed by Poe asking the High Court to reverse the Comelec’s decision disqualifying her.
Bautista said the en banc will determine if Guanzon usurped the power of the en banc.
“We will discuss the issue of protocol in respect to the rules of the Comelec en banc with respect to the filing of pleadings with the Supreme Court. We just want to clarify what is the process,” he added.
Bautista said the Comelec on Monday submitted to the High Court its 47-page comment to Elamparo’s petition, along with a motion to admit comment.
But unlike the comment filed by Guanzon, the second draft comment was circulated among the members of the en banc to give everyone the opportunity to read it and submit their respective comments, Bautista said.
“After the comments were incorporated, Commissioner Art Lim asked the law department to file the comment. It was filed this afternoon with the Supreme Court signed by all seven members of the Commission,” the poll chief added.
Lawmakers urged Comelec officials to settle the dispute because it may undermine the credibility of the 2016 elections.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers urged the poll officials to “get their acts together,” and settled the dispute “internally.”
“The Commissioners should settle their differences internally. Otherwise, the Comelec’s capacity to administer the election in a non-partisan manner will be further eroded,” Tinio said.