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The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has turned down PDP-Laban’s request to reopen the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COC) because the party’s arguments were “not meritorious.”
COMELEC information director James Jimenez said that PDP-Laban was wrong to assert that the printing of ballots cannot continue simply because there were pending cases.
“The petition was saying it's impossible to do all of these things because there are still pending cases. That’s a wrong assertion,” he said. “This is not the first time that we will be going to print with pending disqualification cases. So the fact that there are pending disqualification cases has never been a reason for suspending the start of printing ballots.”
Jimenez pointed out that PDP-Laban failed to take note of preparatory activities in the election timetable when they filed the petition.
“The petition likewise alleged that the COMELEC has the authority to set the timetable and basically short of saying that the COMELEC was arbitrary in setting the timetable. We showed that it’s not arbitrary and in fact the petition had in fact ignored a bunch of preparatory activities… because the grounds being raised were not meritorious, the petition was denied,” Jimenez said.
Last week, jailed Senator Leila de Lima warned that should PDP-Laban’s petition be granted, it may lead to a "no election" situation.
“To therefore ask COMELEC to condition the printing of ballots on the final resolution of disqualification cases hews dangerously close to a 'no election' scenario,” she said. “Maybe this is what the [Energy Secretary Alfonso] Cusi Wing wants all along, for elections to be postponed indefinitely until they get their act together.”
Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson commented that the petition could lead to an extension to the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I would not like to think that the intention of the petition to reopen the filing of the COCs filed by the PDP-Laban is to delay the election on May 9, 2022 – and pave the way for the extension of the term of office of the President beyond June 30, 2022. This is something the 1987 Constitution clearly forbids,” he said.
Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.
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