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

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, May 17th, 2019

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.

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Five winners of Senate race file SOCE at Comelec

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – At least five of the 12 winners in the 2019 Senatorial race have filed their Statement of Campaign Expenditures (SOCE) before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday, June 13.

Senators Cynthia Villar and Nancy Binay led the filing of the SOCE based on Comelec records.

Villar, who clinched the number one spot with more than 25 million votes, filed her campaign expense report on June 11 or two days before the deadline set by Comelec.

Binay, who finished 12th in the race also filed her SOCE last June 11.

Poe, who nestled at the second spot, submitted her report in the afternoon of June 13, as well as Senators-elect Bong Go and Pia Cayetano, who finished third and fourth in the Senate race, respectively.

Comelec said that most of the winning and losing candidates in the May midterm polls were able to beat the SOCE filing deadline.

Section 14 of Republic Act 1766 requires every candidate and political party to file with the Commission the full, true and itemized Soce within 30 days after the election day.

Also required to file such document are those whose campaigns were self-funded, those who did not incur any expenditure, and those who did not pursue their campaign activities even after filing their candidacies or those who withdrew their candidacies.

The poll body said that based on Comelec resolution 10505, the office of an elected candidate who failed to submit the required documents shall be considered vacant pursuant to Section 11 of the Omnibus Election Code until he/she has complied within six months from the proclamation.

“They cannot assume office until they submitted their Statement of Contribution and Expenditures,” said Atty. Efraim Bag-id, acting director of Comelec campaign finance office.

The poll body emphasized the importance of the filing of SOCE as this will help them determine whether candidates and political parties followed the set campaign spending limits.

The Comelec resolution also states that winning candidates and party-lists with late SOCE filing but still within the period of six months shall be charged with lower administrative fines, depending on the position sought by the candidate.

Losing candidates, meanwhile, who failed to submit their SOCE will be meted out an administrative fine of P10,000.

“Iyong mga kandidato na natalo at hindi nakapagsumite ng kanilang Soce, depende po ito kung first timer po sila o second timer. Kapag first timer, administrative po iyan. Kapag 2 or more na beses na hindi sila nakapag- file ng kanilang SOCE e maliban sa administrative fine, they are perpetually disqualified to hold public office whether elective or appointed position,” Bag-id said.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, 20 candidates for the Senate., 50 party-list groups and three political parties have already filed their Soce.

Comelec said other candidates and political parties may submit their Soce before the campaign finance office until 8 p.m. of June 13. (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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Comelec gives due course to Cardema bid to sub as Duterte Youth rep

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

Ronald Cardema

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has given due course to the bid of former National Youth Commission (NYC) chairman Ronald Cardema to substitute as the first nominee of the Duterte Youth party-list group in the 18th Congress.

The Duterte Youth was one of the party-list groups proclaimed as winners in the 2019 midterm elections by the National Board of Canvassers on May 22.

In a resolution released on Tuesday (June 4), Comelec said it has given due course to the nomination of five new nominees as substitutes to the original nominees who backed out of their nominations.

These include Cardema, Gian Carlo Galang, Catherine Santos, Kerwin Pagaran and Sharah Shane Makabali.

In a separate Twitter post, Comelec commissioner Rowena Guanzon clarified that only Cardema’s plea for substitution was given due course.

“His substitution is not yet granted because there is a pending petition or opposition on the ground that he is over 30 years old and cannot be a rep of a youth sector party-list,” she said.

Guanzon earlier said questioned Cardema’s bid, saying he failed to file the nomination bid on time and did not meet age requirements for a nominee of the youth sector under the Party-list System Act.

READ: Guanzon to oppose Cardema’s substitution as Duterte Youth rep

It can be recalled that Cardema’s last-minute filing of his substitution plea as Duterte Youth first nominee drew widespread criticism due to various issues raised against him.

These include his being older than the age limit for representatives of the youth sector, for filing his bid on a Sunday and for allegedly using the NYC email addresses to send out news releases about the Duterte Youth party.

Chairman Sheriff Abas, Al Parreño, Marlon Casquejo, Socorro Inting, and Antonio Kho, Jr. voted in favor of the resolution; Guanzon dissented while commissioner Luie Tito Guia abstained.

The poll body also said in its resolution that it granted the withdrawals of the party-list’s original nominees: Ducielle Suarez, who is Cardema’s wife; Benilda de Guzman, Arnaldo Villafranca, Joseph de Guzman and Elizabeth Anne Cardema.

The same Comelec resolution showed the reasons for their withdrawal of candidacy: Cardema’s wife backed out because she “could no longer fulfill the expectation set forth by the party; Joseph de Guzman said he wanted to support the group’s stance “away from public opinion”; Benilda de Guzman wanted to pursue her passion for teaching; while Villafranca and Elizabeth Cardema wanted to enjoy privacy and fulfill their obligations with their respective families.

Comelec also directed the Duterte Youth party to publish its revised list of nominees in two newspapers of general nationwide circulation at its own expense and submit proof of publication.

Malacañang, meanwhile, distanced itself from the issue.

“We do not intrude nor interfere into the proceedings of any branch of the government or any constitutional body,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters at a Palace press briefing.

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Villar refuses to sign resolution retaining Sotto as Senate leader

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Senator Cynthia Villar on the set of Get It Straight with Daniel Razon

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Cynthia Villar on Monday refused to sign a resolution expressing support for the continued leadership of Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Villar said signing in the senators’ manifesto could put in jeopardy her fellow members in the Nacionalista Party, who are reportedly seeking committee chairmanships in the 18th Congress.

During Monday’s session, Senator Manny Pacquiao asked his fellow senators to sign the resolution but Villar confronted him and PDP-Laban president Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel for dragging her into their rift over the Senate top post.

“Bakit ako pipirma diyan? Kung ipahamak n’yo ang aking kapartido? Ako nakapirma dyan. Hihintayin ko na maayos si Pia at si Imee. Di ba tama yun?” Villar told Pacquiao and Pimentel.

“Bakit ako pipirma dyan nang di naaayos ang kapartido ko?” she added.

Villar was apparently referring to Senators-elect Pia Cayetano and Imee Marcos who also belonged to the Nacionalista Party.

Villar later clarified that she refused to sign the resolution because she wanted things to be settled first.

Once all issues had been discussed with her party-mates, Villar said she would also sign the resolution.

“Kaya nga sinasabi ko sa kanila ayusin nila yung partido nila, there must be something wrong there, tapos ako madadamay. In fairness to those people, ayusin nila because there are incoming senators,” she told reporters in a chance interview.

The manifesto was drafted by Senator Panfilo Lacson expressing support for Sotto amid reports that moves were afoot to replace the latter as Senate President in the next Congress.

Villar was reportedly being eyed as a possible replacement of Sotto but she earlier said she is not interested in becoming Senate President herself.

Senate Minority leader Franklin Drilon also questioned Pacquiao’s “awkward” move.

“We haven’t heard any motion to declare the position on Senate President vacant and therefore we find this manifestation awkward,” Drilon said.

At least 14 senators have signed the resolution: Senators Gringo Honasan, Lacson, Grace Poe, Loren Legarda, Sherwin Gatchalian, Francis Escudero, Pacquiao, Pimentel, Nancy Binay, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sonny Angara, Joel Villanueva, Richard Gordon and Ralph Recto.  

However, three of them will be leaving the upper chamber when the 17th Congress adjourns. These are Legarda, who was elected as Antique Congresswoman; Escudero, who will seat as Sorsogon Governor in June, and Honasan, who is finishing his last-term.

Sotto will need majority of the 24 senators to retain the top Senate post. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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