Comelec hopes to proclaim winning senators, party-list groups next week

Robie de Guzman   •   May 17, 2019   •   1509

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is hoping to complete the canvassing of votes on Saturday (May 18) for the immediate scheduling of the proclamation of winning senators and party-list groups in the 2019 midterm elections.

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a press briefing that no final date of proclamation has been confirmed because the canvassing has yet to be finished.

“No invitations have been sent out yet. There might have been a verbal invitation of when the proclamation could happen at the earliest. It’s like a heads up,” he said. “There are still some matters to be settled.”

Jimenez also said that the poll body will proclaim winners of senatorial and party-list races simultaneously, saying the move is seen as more efficient.

“One of the directions that we are doing is one proclamation for both Senate and Party-list winners. So, it does take some time, magkasama. So hindi tayo pwedeng magmadali,” he said.

There have been calls for the suspension of the proclamation of winning national candidates over allegations of poll fraud and irregularities that cast doubts on the credibility of the midterm polls.

But Jimenez said on Wednesday that the proclamation of winning bets cannot be suspended based on unsupported allegations.

The Comelec, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), has so far canvassed 145 out of 167 certificates of canvass (COC), with 99.15 percent of election returns (ER) transmitted for canvassing.

This accounts to 85,044 out of the 85,769 ERs that the poll body should receive.

The latest partial and official results from the NBOC showed that reelectionist Senator Cynthia Villar continues to lead the senatorial race followed by Senator Grace Poe.

Rounding up the top 15 are Bong Go, Pia Cayetano, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Sonny Angara, Lito Lapid, Imee Marcos, Francis Tolentino, Koko Pimentel, Nancy Binay, Bong Revilla, Bam Aquino, JV Ejercito and Jinggoy Estrada.

9 of 10 Filipinos favor automated election system — Pulse Asia

Maris Federez   •   August 7, 2019

Majority of the Filipinos still favor continuing the holding of elections through an automated system in the future.

Based on Pulse Asia’s recent survey conducted last June, nine of 10 or 91% of Filipinos would still prefer having the elections done electronically.

They said an automated election system is faster and the results are immediately released.

“They feel that faster results made the Elections more credible and then it’s also easier compared to let’s say how we use to vote where you have to write the surname of the candidate,” Pulse Asia president Dr. Ronnie Holmes said.

An election watchdog, however, said that since election results were difficult to manipulate under the AES, reports of vote-buying increased.

“Vote buying became more rampant after we automated our Elections because candidates, politicians did not know how to cheat the machines,” said LENTE executive director Atty. Ona Carritos.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) believes that President Rodrigo Duterte still trusts the automated election system despite his earlier pronouncement in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) favoring the termination of the contract with Smartmatic. (with details from Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

Villar urges new DA acting chief to return P4 billion for rice fund

Robie de Guzman   •   August 6, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Cynthia Villar has urged new acting Agriculture Secretary William Dar to prioritize the return of the funds intended for the programs that will help increase farmers’ production under the Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tarrification Law.

Villar said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P5 billion last year for the enactment of the law creating the P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

Of the amount, only P1 billion went to RCEF’s program providing farmers access to cheap credit through Landbank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines, the senator said.

“Kahit sabihin pa nila na kaya ginastos iyon dahil hindi pa napapasa ang RCEF, dapat naghintay sila at hindi ginastos sa ibang bagay,” Villar said.

“I want DA to account for the remaining P4 billion and also to make sure that P4 billion will be immediately returned to RCEF,” she added.

Villar said the amount is needed to jumpstart the programs enumerated in the law, which was already delayed by the late approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act.

RA 11203, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 14, 2019, replaced the quantitative restriction on rice imports with tariffs. The collected amount will be given to farmers to improve their competitiveness through RCEF.

Under RCEF, P5 billion will be allocated to the Philippine Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) for the procurement of farm equipment to be distributed to 947 rice-producing towns in the Philippines.

P3 billion will be allotted to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to teach farmers how to produce inbred seeds, which will increase their yield by up to 50 percent from 4 metric tons per hectare (MTN/ha) to 6 MTN/ha.

RCEF will also provide P1 billion for the creation of a credit facility with minimal interest rates and collateral requirements.

The remaining P1 billion is allocated to PhilMech, PhilRice, the Agriculture Training Institute and the Technical Skills Development Authority for farmers’ skills training.

With the appointment of William Dar as acting Agriculture chief, Villar expressed hope that the department will now be more supportive of the full implementation of the law and the return of P4 billion for rice fund will be prioritized.

Comelec 1st division cancels Cardema’s nomination as Duterte Youth party rep

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2019

Ronald Cardema

MANILA, Philippines – The first division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday ordered the cancellation of the nomination of former National Youth Commission (NYC) Ronald Cardema as a representative of the Duterte Youth Party-list in the 18th Congress.

Comelec spokesperson, director James Jimenez announced the decision on his Twitter account.

“The nomination of Respondent, Ronald Gian Carlo L. Cardema, as the first nominee of Duterte Youth party-list is hereby cancelled,” read the dispositive portion of the poll body’s first division resolution obtained by UNTV News and Rescue.

Two of the three-member division, Commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Marlon Caquejo, voted in favor of the petition while Commissioner Al Parreño was on official business.

In a 25-page resolution, the Comelec 1st division said that Cardema committed material misrepresentation on his age when he filed his nomination bid.

The division said Cardema was not eligible to be nominated as Duterte Youth party representative contrary to the declaration he made in his Certificate of Acceptance of Nomination.

He was also aware that he is already 34 years old, and thus “committed a falsity when he misrepresented that he eligible for nomination” despite not possessing the age qualification provided by law for representatives of the youth sector.

Section 9 of Republic Act 7941 or the Partylist Law provides that a nominee of a youth party-list group must be between 25 to 30 years old.

“In view thereof, this Commission finds respondent to have committed material misrepresentation on his qualifications,” the resolution read.

During hearings, the camp of Cardema claimed that Duterte Youth is a multi-sectoral party representing not only the youth sector but also the young professionals and this, he is eligible to be nominated despite his already being 34 years old.

But taking the petition as a whole, the division said, it can be observed that the party intended to limit its representation of professionals only insofar as “young professionals” are concerned. The division noted that Cardema himself admitted to this effect in the pleadings he filed.

“While it may be true that Duterte Youth Party-list represents both the young and young professionals, it is important to consider that the professionals being represented by the party are the “young ones,” who would necessarily belong to the youth sector,” the resolution stated.

“With this in mind, this Commission finds no reason why the age qualification provided by law for nominees of the youth sector should not be applied to the respondent,” the resolution added.

Election Lawyer Emil Marañon, counsel for petitioners against Cardema’s nomination, welcomed the Comelec division’s decision.

“We are happy to announce that with the vote of 2-0, the Comelec First Division has granted our Petition seeking the cancellation of the nomination of Gian Carlo Cardema as the First Nominee of the Duterte Youth Party-List,” Marañon said on a Twitter post.

“Hopefully, this decision will be the first step towards the reform of the party-list system, that is to bring it back to the truly marginalized and underrepresented sectors,” he said in a separate statement.

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