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PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

POE TO PNoy: FIX MRT-3, FIRE ABAYA


JANUARY 6 -Sen. Grace Poe yesterday called on President Aquino to step into the raging Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) controversy and fire Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC)Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya Jr.
The call was made after the South Korean and Filipino joint venture firms that won the maintenance contract with the government opted out of the deal. Poe was referring to the P3.81-billion maintenance contract of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) with joint venture Busan Transportation Corporation, Edison Development & Construction, Tramat Mercantile, Inc., TMICorp Inc., and Castan Corporation—a South Korean-Filipino group which is supposed to commence on Jan. 5. Apart from the withdrawal of the South Korean firm, the Philippine-German contractor of the rolling stock and signaling systems also reportedly refused to extend its services. The President, she said, should start taking control of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) currently headed by Abaya . whom she has scored repeatedly for incompetence and gross neglect in dealing with the maintenance and operational problems hounding the MRT-3 which has been increasingly become detrimental to the riding public. “This situation is critical and the safety of the riding public is in peril,” Poe said in a text message. READ MORE...

ALSO: Comelec insists Poe lied in CoC


JANUARY 8 -CONFLICT ENSUES WITH SOLGEN’S TACK State lawyers representing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) asserted its findings that embattled presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe lied about her citizenship and qualification to run in next May’s elections which were contrary to a position taken by the Solicitor General on the same issue. The Solicitor General is representing the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) in a petition for certiorari of Rizalito David on the body’s decision to uphold the qualification of Poe as senator. “(I)nconsistencies in Petitioner’s (Poe’s) declarations with respect to her residency in the Philippines are strong unmistakable indications of her intent and attempt to deliberately misrepresent a material matter in her COC (certificate of candidacy),” the Comelec through commissioner Rowena Guanzon said in the voluminous pleading. Solicitor General Florin Hilbay in a separate pleading took a contrary position and sided with the majority opinion of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) which ruled in favor of Poe’s claim of being a natural-born Filipino citizen in a separate case also pending before the high court. As a result of the conflicting views of the Senate and the Solicitor General, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal believes that the Comelec should represent itself in the disqualification cases against presidential aspirant Senator Grace Poe before the Supreme Court (SC). Macalintal said the poll body is capable of defending its decision. Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista had affirmed the poll body would represent itself before the High Court after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) defended the decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) favoring Poe as a natural-born Filipino. The SET rulings contradict the poll body’s decision disqualifying Poe as a presidential candidate. The SC set oral arguments on Poe’s case on Jan. 19. The Comelec insisted on its standing as a constitutional body not bound by the SET’s findings in Poe’s separate case. As a rule, the Comelec has the final say on who can run for office including incidental matters before the proclamation of the winner in an election. After proclamation, election controversies are generally left to the courts and the electoral tribunals . READ MORE...

ALSO: Abaya co-terminus with me -Noy


JANUARY 9 -A system breakdown involving the MRT 3 triggers a long line of commuters at the North Avenue station in Quezon City yesterday. Top photo shows coaches of the MRT, which would be overhauled within the next two years following the finalization of a P3.8-billion maintenance contract between the government and a Filipino-South Korean consortium. MICHAEL VARCAS
Embattled Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya will keep his job until the day his friend President Aquino steps down at the end of his six-year term.
The President made this clear yesterday as he reaffirmed his trust and confidence in Abaya, who is drawing flak for Metro Manila’s troubled mass transport service, particularly the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)’s erratic operations. “Yes” was the Chief Executive’s quick reply when asked in Davao City whether he intended to keep the former Cavite congressman in his Cabinet despite mounting calls for his dismissal. Abaya is also the ruling Liberal Party’s secretary general. He had served as aide-de-camp of Aquino’s late mother Corazon in the late 1980s. Aquino defended Abaya’s continued stay at the helm of the Department of Transportation and Communications, noting that contrary to speculations, the MRT 3 has a “maintenance provider who accepted a one-month extension.”  “After the one-month extension, Busan will take over the maintenance aspect completely. So it’s not right to say that maintenance has ceased. Secretary Abaya insists there was never a moment that MRT 3 did not have a maintenance provider,” he explained, referring to the consortium of Busan Transportation Corp., Edison Development & Construction, Tramat Mercantile Inc., TMICorp Inc. and Castan Corp. Sen. Grace Poe, an independent presidential candidate, has been calling on the President to dismiss Abaya, saying the country does not deserve a DOTC chief like him. Aquino said the call for Abaya’s resignation was apparently in reaction to reports that Busan had walked out of its contract with the government. He said developments were apparently wrongly reported. READ MORE...

ALSO: Comelec in disarray over Poe DQ cases


JANUARY 10 -Comelec Chair Andres Bautista and Election Commissioner Rowena Guanzon. FILE PHOTO
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Saturday appeared to be in disarray, with two of its members locking horns over the “unauthorized” filing of a comment in the Supreme Court for the junking of Sen. Grace Poe’s petitions for the reversal of two rulings by the poll watchdog to disqualify her from the presidential election in May. The disclosure of the unauthorized comment prompted Poe’s camp to ask Comelec Chair Andres Bautista to expose the members of the election commission who had their own “political agenda” and working for her elimination from the presidential race. READ: Comelec chair: Comment on Poe’s cases filed before SC ‘unauthorized’  
Poe’s camp also said that if the Comelec comment was indeed unauthorized, she would ask the Supreme Court to strike it off the records for a faster resolution of her cases. Talking to reporters late on Friday, Bautista disclosed that Election Commissioner Rowena Guanzon filed a comment on Poe’s pleadings to the Supreme Court to overturn the decisions of the Comelec First and Second Divisions to disqualify her from the election without clearance from him or the full commission. Bautista said Guanzon put his name on the document, but he had neither read nor signed it. In the comment filed by Guanzon on Thursday, the Comelec asked the Supreme Court to junk Poe’s challenge to the decisions of the First and Second Divisions to cancel her certificate of candidacy for President for her failure to prove that she was a natural-born Filipino and meet the 10-year residency requirement for presidential candidates. Order to explain Bautista issued a memorandum on Friday directing Guanzon and Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal, director of the Comelec’s law department, to explain “under whose authority the comment was filed.” He said he found the filing of the comment without giving him and the other members of the Comelec a chance to review its contents “not only irregular but [also] personally disrespectful.” Bautista gave Guanzon and Casingal 24 hours to explain. If their explanation was unsatisfactory, Bautista said he would be “constrained to inform the Supreme Court that the filing of the comment was unauthorized.” READ MORE...RELATED, Guanzon dares Bautista to open Comelec records to public...

ALSO: Poe urges Bautista to probe 'personalities' after Comelec infighting


JANUARY 9 -Sen. Grace Poe on Saturday urged Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista to launch an investigation on "personalities" within the poll body who are allegedly trying to sabotage her chances of joining the 2016 presidential race. Poe's camp made the call in light of the reported infighting between Bautista and Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon over the latter's filing of a comment with the Supreme Court on the Poe cases without the chairman's signature.
In a statement, Poe's spokesman Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian blasted Guanzon for her actions. "We believe that the actions of Commissioner Guanzon is wrong, as she is usurping the powers reserved for the en banc," he said. "The actions of Commissioner Guanzon is undermining our electoral process and endangering our very democracy," added Poe's spokesman. Gatchalian said Guanzon's actions only bolstered the senator's suspicion that there are people within Comelec trying to derail her presidential bid. "From day 1 we have been saying that certain personalities inside Comelec have political agendas against Sen. Poe. These personalities have been driven by political and partisan biases against Sen. Poe," he said. "We are calling on Chairman Bautista to investigate these personalities inside the commission that should be impartial. Chairman Bautista should unmask these personalities and make them publicly accountable," the lawyer added. "It's alarming to see that the very institution tasked to oversee the conduct of orderly elections in disarray. We are calling on the good Chairman of Comelec to put the house in order," Gatchalian said. READ MORE...RELATED, Escudero: Comelec exec threat to democracy POLL CHIEF HAS NO POWER TO INVESTIGATE–GUANZON...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Poe to PNoy: Fix MRT-3 mess, fire Abaya

MANILA, JANUARY 11, 2016 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Hannah Torregoza January 6, 2016 - Sen. Grace Poe yesterday called on President Aquino to step into the raging Metro Rail Transit-3 (MRT-3) controversy and fire Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC)Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya Jr.

The call was made after the South Korean and Filipino joint venture firms that won the maintenance contract with the government opted out of the deal.

Poe was referring to the P3.81-billion maintenance contract of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) with joint venture Busan Transportation Corporation, Edison Development & Construction, Tramat Mercantile, Inc., TMICorp Inc., and Castan Corporation—a South Korean-Filipino group which is supposed to commence on Jan. 5.

Apart from the withdrawal of the South Korean firm, the Philippine-German contractor of the rolling stock and signaling systems also reportedly refused to extend its services.

The President, she said, should start taking control of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) currently headed by Abaya . whom she has scored repeatedly for incompetence and gross neglect in dealing with the maintenance and operational problems hounding the MRT-3 which has been increasingly become detrimental to the riding public.

“This situation is critical and the safety of the riding public is in peril,” Poe said in a text message.

READ MORE...

“With the seemingly nonchalant stance of the DOTC and MRT management in not being upfront about this circumstance, I urge the good President to step in, take control of the DOTC and pull together all the needed government resources at its disposal to address the situation,” Poe said.

The President, she said, should not wait for Abaya to resign but should replace him immediately.

“Five months is an eternity to our riding public. We have endured more than three years of Abaya’s incompetence and short sightedness,” she said.

The South Korean-based group reportedly worried about lawsuits it may face in connection with the deal which was awarded to them through negotiated procurement without public bidding before Dec. 25. last year.

Busan Transport Corp. claimed it merely wanted to serve as technical adviser in the three-year maintenance contract

On the other hand, the German-Filipino joint venture in charge of the principal maintenance contractor, declined extending their services for another one-month citing the government’s failure to pay the company in full.


TRIBUNE

Comelec insists Poe lied in CoC Written by Tribune Wires Friday, 08 January 2016 00:00

CONFLICT ENSUES WITH SOLGEN’S TACK State lawyers representing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) asserted its findings that embattled presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe lied about her citizenship and qualification to run in next May’s elections which were contrary to a position taken by the Solicitor General on the same issue.

The Solicitor General is representing the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) in a petition for certiorari of Rizalito David on the body’s decision to uphold the qualification of Poe as senator. “(I)nconsistencies in Petitioner’s (Poe’s) declarations with respect to her residency in the Philippines are strong unmistakable indications of her intent and attempt to deliberately misrepresent a material matter in her COC (certificate of candidacy),” the Comelec through commissioner Rowena Guanzon said in the voluminous pleading.


Solicitor General Florin Hilbay in a separate pleading took a contrary position and sided with the majority opinion of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) which ruled in favor of Poe’s claim of being a natural-born Filipino citizen in a separate case also pending before the high court.

As a result of the conflicting views of the Senate and the Solicitor General, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal believes that the Comelec should represent itself in the disqualification cases against presidential aspirant Senator Grace Poe before the Supreme Court (SC).


Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal

Macalintal said the poll body is capable of defending its decision. Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista had affirmed the poll body would represent itself before the High Court after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) defended the decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) favoring Poe as a natural-born Filipino. The SET rulings contradict the poll body’s decision disqualifying Poe as a presidential candidate.

The SC set oral arguments on Poe’s case on Jan. 19. The Comelec insisted on its standing as a constitutional body not bound by the SET’s findings in Poe’s separate case. As a rule, the Comelec has the final say on who can run for office including incidental matters before the proclamation of the winner in an election. After proclamation, election controversies are generally left to the courts and the electoral tribunals .

READ MORE...

“The ruling of the SET however with respect to her citizenship does not negate and overturn, nor preclude, the finding made by the Comelec that Petitioner is not a natural-born Filipino,” the Comelec said. “The decision of the SET does not bind the Comelec. It is not a legal precedent. The SET ruling cannot circumvent nor does it preclude the Comelec from making a contrary conclusion based on applicable law and jurisprudence,” it added. Comelec asserts rules “How can Comelec be then considered to have capriciously and whimsically exercised its discretion, when its decision was arrived at with due regard to its rules, after hearing, with full appreciation of the pieces of evidence present, and after a thorough study of the pertinent laws and jurisprudence?” read the poll body’s comment.


COMELEC CHIEF BAUTISTA

In the December 23, 2015 ruling that Poe was contesting before the SC, the Comelec en banc junked Poe’s petitions against the separate rulings of the First and Second Divisions canceling her COC for president. The Comelec en banc voted 5-2 to uphold the First Division’s decision disqualifying her from the 2016 presidential election based on questions of citizenship and residency raised by former Senator Francisco Tatad, political analyst Antonio Contreras and former law dean Amado Valdez.

The en banc, meanwhile, voted 5-1-1 upholding the decision of the Second Division on lawyer Estrella Elamparo’s petition to cancel Poe’s COC because of her failure to meet the constitutional requirement of a 10-year residency for presidential candidates.

The Comelec also defended the petition filed by Tatad, saying despite being denominated a “petition for disqualification,” the grounds he invoked were for the cancellation of Poe’s COC. The Comelec insisted it has jurisdiction to rule on the citizenship issue of Poe despite a July 18, 2006 order from the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation that granted Poe and her children a reacquisition of Filipino citizenship.

The Comelec also reiterated its earlier position that Poe committed misrepresentation in the COC she filed for her 2016 presidential bid. It said Poe, a foundling from Iloilo, is not a natural-born Filipino because she could not show direct blood relationship to a Filipino parent.

“Unless Petitioner can show that a foundling with no known parentage or definitive blood relationship is an exception to the requirement of jus sanguinis, her claim that she is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines does not stand,” said the Comelec.

“The provision of the 1935 Constitution is clear. The letter of the law is unmistakable. And it is settled in our legal system that where the law is clear and unambiguous, there is no room for construction, only application,” it added.

The Comelec also said despite Poe’s reliance on international law to defend her citizenship, “there is nothing however in international law which vests upon and commits to Petitioner the status of a natural-born Filipino citizen.”

The Comelec said Poe’s supposed intention to re-establish her domicile in the Philippines was belied by her frequent travels to the Philippines using a US passport from 2006 to 2010.

The Comelec said Poe’s acts of transferring her children to Philippine schools and buying properties in San Juan and Quezon City to prove domicile could not be given weight because she did all of those while she was still a US citizen.

 “Furthermore, she did not have, as she could not have had, permanent residency in the Philippines as of 24 May 2005 or on any date thereafter because she was then a non-Filipino citizen and therefore a foreigner,” added the poll body.

 The Comelec maintained that Poe only reacquired her domicile in the Philippines on August 31, 2006, when she registered as a voter in Brgy. Santa Lucia, San Juan City. “To a great degree, Petitioner’s ‘honest mistake’ excuse crumbles in the face of the fact that six (6) years and six (6) months computed from 2 October 2012, the date Petitioner filed her COC for Senator, is more or less around April 2006.

Still, this does not match Petitioner’s claim that she has been a resident of the Philippines since 24 May 2005,” it said. Not bound by SET ruling The poll body also said that their decision on Poe’s quizzed citizenship — if she’s natural born or not — is not subject to the Senate Electoral Tribunal’s (SET) decision which was favorable for Poe, where a quo warranto was filed seeking to unseat her from the Senate based on the issue of her citizenship and alleged lack of residency to hold elective government post.

The SET and the Comelec, after all, are separate constitutional bodies which serve different mandates and functions.

Also, the cases filed in Comelec against Poe are different from the SET case. “The ruling of the SET however with respect to her citizenship does not negate and overturn, nor preclude, the finding made by the Comelec that Petitioner is not a natural-born Filipino,” the Comelec said.

“The decision of the SET does not bind the Comelec. It is not a legal precedent. The SET ruling cannot circumvent nor does it preclude the Comelec from making a contrary conclusion based on applicable law and jurisprudence,” it added.


NO UNANIMOUS VOTE. Of the 6 senators in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, only Senator Nancy Binay votes to disqualify Grace Poe as senator of the Philippines. Rappler file photos

The Comelec also said that they are not buying Poe’s claim of committing an “honest mistake”, reiterating that she indeed made a material misrepresentation in her certificate of candidacy (CoC) for the elections. “To a great degree, Petitioner’s ‘honest mistake’ excuse crumbles in the face of the fact that six (6) years and six (6) months computed from 2 October 2012, the date Petitioner filed her COC for Senator, is more or less around April 2006.

Still, this does not match Petitioner’s claim that she has been a resident of the Philippines since 24 May 2005,” it said. Poe, the Comelec says, reacquired her domicile on August 31, 2006, when she registered as a voter in Brgy. Santa Lucia, San Juan City and that her claim of buying properties in the country and enrolling her children in Philippine schools earlier on is not sufficient to prove domicile.

“Furthermore, she did not have, as she could not have had, permanent residency in the Philippines as of 24 May 2005 or on any date thereafter because she was then a non-Filipino citizen and therefore a foreigner,” the poll body said.

“These inconsistencies in Petitioner’s declarations with respect to her residency in the Philippines are strong unmistakable indications of her intent and attempt to deliberately misrepresent a material matter in her COC,” it added.

The poll body on December 24 released its decision voting to disqualify Sen. Poe – 5-2 in the first division and 5-1 in the second division – from the presidential race on the bases of her quizzed citizenship and alleged lack of residency.

Comelec can defend itself “The Comelec, with the thousands of cases it has previously decided, is considered to have gained such special knowledge and expertise over matters falling within its jurisdiction, hence, there is no reason to doubt its competence and ability to defend itself,” Macalintal said in a statement. He noted how the members of the commission presented and extensively discussed their arguments on the four disqualification cases in the rulings in the Comelec’s First and Second Divisions and the en banc.

“The Comelec, being the constitutional agency entrusted by the Constitution to enforce all laws relative to the conduct of the elections and decide all questions relating to the qualifications of all elective officials, knows all the facts and the laws in connection with Poe’s cases,” Macalintal said.

He added, “With Comelec arguing for itself, the court will get all answers and clarifications directly and precisely from the most official source and authority, that is the Comelec, who has all the facts and the laws related to Poe’s cases.” Macalintal said that if ever the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) will represent the Comelec, it will also consult the latter regarding the cases. “For sure, if these cases would be handled by the Solicitor General, the latter would consult and inquire from the Comelec all the circumstances behind Poe’s cases to be able to prepare a well-grounded comment on Poe’s petitions assailing the Comelec decisions,” Macalintal explained. By Benjamin B. Pulta and Ted Tuvera Published in Headlines

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Guanzon dares Bautista to open Comelec records to public By: Aries Joseph Hegina
@AHeginaINQ INQUIRER.net 02:53 PM January 10th, 2016


Comelec commissioner Rowena Guanzon talks to media. ARIES JOSEPH HEGINA / INQUIRER.NET

Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Rowena Guanzon is challenging poll body chair Andres Bautista to open the agency’s records to the public to show how the commissioners “acted in the discharge of their functions.”

Guanzon issued a statement on Sunday after the camp of Senator Grace Poe told Bautista to investigate members of the commission to identify those “forwarding their political agenda” in order to exclude her from the 2016 presidential race.
She said that she would not back down from a fight that puts her integrity at stake.

“As an honest public servant with 20 years of government service, I have never walked away from a good fight especially when my integrity has been impugned,” Guanzon said.

“Senator Poe urges Chair Bautista to probe us commissioners. This is my challenge to Chair Bautista, let us open all the records and minutes of the Commission to show to the public how the commission members, IN THE SPIRIT OF TRANSPARENCY, acted in the discharge of their functions,” she added.

She concluded, “Let the public decide who among us genuinely live up to the ideals of integrity in public service.”

Poe’s camp observed that Comelec was “in disarray” as Bautista called out Guanzon for filing an “unauthorized” comment before the Supreme Court regarding Poe’s pleadings to overturn the decisions of the Comelec’s First and Second Division disqualifying the senator from the election.

Bautista issued a memorandum requiring Guanzon to explain her actions. The Comelec chief said that Guanzon’s move to file a comment without the other commissioners reviewing it was “not only irregular but [also] personally disrespectful.”

The commissioner, on the other hand, maintained that she had the authority to file the comment on behalf of the poll body. She said that Bautista had no control over her.

“I must emphasize that as a commissioner, I am not a subordinate or [an] employee of Chair Bautista and he has no administrative supervision or control over me,” Guanzon said last Friday.

Bautista said that if he found the explanation of Guanzon unsatisfactory, he would be “constrained to inform the Supreme Court that the filing of the comment was unauthorized.”

In a dzBB radio interview on Sunday, Guanzon said that Bautista should be thankful that she filed the comment on behalf of the poll body.

“Dapat magpasalamat pa ang Chairman na gumawa kami (ng comment),” she said.


PHILSTAR

Noy: Abaya co-terminus with me By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 9, 2016 - 12:00am 3 153 googleplus0 0


A system breakdown involving the MRT 3 triggers a long line of commuters at the North Avenue station in Quezon City yesterday. Top photo shows coaches of the MRT, which would be overhauled within the next two years following the finalization of a P3.8-billion maintenance contract between the government and a Filipino-South Korean consortium. MICHAEL VARCAS

MANILA, Philippines – Embattled Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya will keep his job until the day his friend President Aquino steps down at the end of his six-year term.

The President made this clear yesterday as he reaffirmed his trust and confidence in Abaya, who is drawing flak for Metro Manila’s troubled mass transport service, particularly the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)’s erratic operations.

“Yes” was the Chief Executive’s quick reply when asked in Davao City whether he intended to keep the former Cavite congressman in his Cabinet despite mounting calls for his dismissal.

Abaya is also the ruling Liberal Party’s secretary general. He had served as aide-de-camp of Aquino’s late mother Corazon in the late 1980s.

Aquino defended Abaya’s continued stay at the helm of the Department of Transportation and Communications, noting that contrary to speculations, the MRT 3 has a “maintenance provider who accepted a one-month extension.”

“After the one-month extension, Busan will take over the maintenance aspect completely. So it’s not right to say that maintenance has ceased. Secretary Abaya insists there was never a moment that MRT 3 did not have a maintenance provider,” he explained, referring to the consortium of Busan Transportation Corp., Edison Development & Construction, Tramat Mercantile Inc., TMICorp Inc. and Castan Corp.

Sen. Grace Poe, an independent presidential candidate, has been calling on the President to dismiss Abaya, saying the country does not deserve a DOTC chief like him.

Aquino said the call for Abaya’s resignation was apparently in reaction to reports that Busan had walked out of its contract with the government.

He said developments were apparently wrongly reported.

READ MORE...

“It’s not walking away, it’s ‘walking to’ that should have been indicated on the headlines,” he said.

“They (Busan and joint venture partners) will maintain the MRT 3 for three years and rehabilitate, overhaul 43 of the LRVs; will install a completely new signaling system, replace the obsolete one. They are already taking over the signaling today (yesterday),” he added.

Lamentable

Poe said President Aquino’s decision to keep Abaya was “lamentable.”

She said “equally unfortunate is the secretary’s refusal to budge from his post amid the MRT mess.”

Poe also slammed statements from pro-administration allies who blamed the MRT mess on the “original sin” of the previous Arroyo administration.

“Let us stop invoking the original sin through the disadvantageous contract entered into by the past administrations on the MRT 3. Let us get along with this deal and gather our resources to fix whatever we can. The administration has all the resources at its disposal to do this since Day One,” she said.

She did not name names but Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II, who was a DOTC secretary, has been blaming the Arroyo administration for the maintenance deal foul-up.

Poe maintained there is a need for authorities to closely assess the safety of the MRT system. – Christina Mendez, Robertzon Ramirez


INQUIRER

Comelec in disarray over Poe DQ cases SHARES: 46 VIEW COMMENTS By: Leila B. Salaverria, Tarra Quismundo and Marlon Ramos, Tina G. Santos @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 02:13 AM January 10th, 2016


Comelec Chair Andres Bautista and Election Commissioner Rowena Guanzon. FILE PHOTO

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Saturday appeared to be in disarray, with two of its members locking horns over the “unauthorized” filing of a comment in the Supreme Court for the junking of Sen. Grace Poe’s petitions for the reversal of two rulings by the poll watchdog to disqualify her from the presidential election in May.

The disclosure of the unauthorized comment prompted Poe’s camp to ask Comelec Chair Andres Bautista to expose the members of the election commission who had their own “political agenda” and working for her elimination from the presidential race.

READ: Comelec chair: Comment on Poe’s cases filed before SC ‘unauthorized’

Poe’s camp also said that if the Comelec comment was indeed unauthorized, she would ask the Supreme Court to strike it off the records for a faster resolution of her cases.

Talking to reporters late on Friday, Bautista disclosed that Election Commissioner Rowena Guanzon filed a comment on Poe’s pleadings to the Supreme Court to overturn the decisions of the Comelec First and Second Divisions to disqualify her from the election without clearance from him or the full commission.

Bautista said Guanzon put his name on the document, but he had neither read nor signed it.

READ: Guanzon: Bautista asked to put his name on Comelec comment

In the comment filed by Guanzon on Thursday, the Comelec asked the Supreme Court to junk Poe’s challenge to the decisions of the First and Second Divisions to cancel her certificate of candidacy for President for her failure to prove that she was a natural-born Filipino and meet the 10-year residency requirement for presidential candidates.

Order to explain

Bautista issued a memorandum on Friday directing Guanzon and Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal, director of the Comelec’s law department, to explain “under whose authority the comment was filed.”

He said he found the filing of the comment without giving him and the other members of the Comelec a chance to review its contents “not only irregular but [also] personally disrespectful.”

Bautista gave Guanzon and Casingal 24 hours to explain. If their explanation was unsatisfactory, Bautista said he would be “constrained to inform the Supreme Court that the filing of the comment was unauthorized.”

READ MORE...

Guanzon rejected Bautista’s directive, insisting that she had the authority to file the comment.

“I must emphasize that as a commissioner, I am not a subordinate or [an] employee of Chair Bautista and he has no administrative supervision or control over me,” Guanzon said in a two-page statement, an image of which she posted on her Twitter account late Friday.

Guanzon said Bautista’s actions on Friday hurt the image of the Comelec and could have damaged the commission’s case in the Supreme Court.

“The memorandum of Chair Bautista unfortunately damaged the image of the institution and I am afraid might prejudice our case,” she said.

“Our first priority should be the institution and the country that we must serve faithfully,” she said.

Guanzon said the preparation and filing of the comment “had the imprimatur of the Comelec en banc.”

She said she was compelled to issue the statement to defend herself against the “serious accusations” of Bautista.

Guanzon said Bautista’s statements stained her “reputation as [an election] commissioner and as a lawyer.”

Bautista declined to comment on Guanzon’s statement on Saturday, saying he would take up the matter during a session of the full commission.

Poe’s camp expressed concern about a brawl in the Comelec that may have been provoked by the actions of members of the commission who were biased against the senator.


GATCHALIAN, POE's SPOKESMAN: SENATOR’S CAMP WANTS BIASED ELECTION OFFICIALS EXPOSED

“It’s alarming to see that the very institution tasked [with overseeing] the conduct of orderly elections is in disarray,” Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian, a spokesperson for Poe, said in a statement.

Unmask them

Without mentioning names, Gatchalian pressed the belief in Poe’s camp that some members of the Comelec were pursuing their own “political agenda” and working against Poe.

Gatchalian urged Bautista to open an impartial investigation, unmask those members of the commission and “make them publicly accountable.”

He said the actions of Guanzon were “wrong, as she is usurping the powers reserved for the [Comelec] en banc.”

“The actions of Commissioner Guanzon are undermining our electoral process and endangering our very democracy,” Gatchalian said.

Poe’s next move

Poe’s lawyer George Garcia said she would ask the Supreme Court to “expunge” from the records the Comelec comment if it was true that the filing was unauthorized.

He said Poe would also ask the Supreme Court to declare the Comelec had waived its right to comment on her petitions to overturn the poll watchdog’s rulings disqualifying her from the presidential race.

Garcia could not say, however, if such a motion would lead to the cancellation of oral arguments on the case set by the Supreme Court for Jan. 19.

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Poe urges Bautista to probe 'personalities' after Comelec infighting Published January 9, 2016 12:58pm

Sen. Grace Poe on Saturday urged Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista to launch an investigation on "personalities" within the poll body who are allegedly trying to sabotage her chances of joining the 2016 presidential race.

Poe's camp made the call in light of the reported infighting between Bautista and Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon over the latter's filing of a comment with the Supreme Court on the Poe cases without the chairman's signature.

In a statement, Poe's spokesman Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian blasted Guanzon for her actions. "We believe that the actions of Commissioner Guanzon is wrong, as she is usurping the powers reserved for the en banc," he said.

"The actions of Commissioner Guanzon is undermining our electoral process and endangering our very democracy," added Poe's spokesman.

Gatchalian said Guanzon's actions only bolstered the senator's suspicion that there are people within Comelec trying to derail her presidential bid.

"From day 1 we have been saying that certain personalities inside Comelec have political agendas against Sen. Poe. These personalities have been driven by political and partisan biases against Sen. Poe," he said.

"We are calling on Chairman Bautista to investigate these personalities inside the commission that should be impartial. Chairman Bautista should unmask these personalities and make them publicly accountable," the lawyer added.

"It's alarming to see that the very institution tasked to oversee the conduct of orderly elections in disarray. We are calling on the good Chairman of Comelec to put the house in order," Gatchalian said.

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Bautista said he never got a chance to read the petition filed by Guanzon on behalf of the poll body. If Guanzon fails to explain herself, Bautista warned her that he would have to tell the SC that the document she filed at the high court is unauthorized.

Bautista added that Guanzon’s decision was a sign of disrespect to his position.

In response, Guanzon lashed back at Bautista, saying he has no administrative supervision over her. Guanzon said Bautista's statement on the matter has tarnished her reputation, damaged the Comelec's image, and might prejudice the poll body's case at the SC.

Guanzon filed the Comelec comment to ask the high court to dismiss Poe's petition challenging the poll body's en banc decision upholding a division ruling that canceled Poe's certificate of candidacy for the 2016 polls over questions on her citizenship and residency. —Mark Merueñas/ALG, GMA News

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Escudero: Comelec exec threat to democracy POLL CHIEF HAS NO POWER TO INVESTIGATE–GUANZON SHARES: New VIEW COMMENTS By: Christine O. Avendaño, Jocelyn R. Uy @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:14 AM January 11th, 2016


Sen. Francis Escudero. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

SEN. FRANCIS Escudero Sunday called Election Commissioner Rowena Guanzon a “threat to democracy” after the poll official made a defiant stand against a directive from the chief of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to explain the filing of an unauthorized comment to Sen. Grace Poe’s petitions to the Supreme Court to overturn two decisions of the election watchdog to disqualify her from May’s presidential race.

In a statement, Escudero, Poe’s running mate, also asked Comelec Chair Andres Bautista to fight internal attempts to undermine the integrity of the election commission and expose the officials who were trying to “sabotage the electoral process.”

A memorandum issued by Bautista on Friday showed that the comment filed by Guanzon in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Comelec had no authorization from the full commission.

In that comment, the Comelec asked the Supreme Court to throw out Poe’s pleading to overturn the decisions of the First and Second Divisions of the poll body to disqualify her from the presidential election for her failure to prove that she was a native-born Filipino and to meet the 10-year Philippine residency requirement for candidates.

Bautista said Guanzon put his name on the document but he had not read or signed it.

Order to explain

The Comelec chief issued a memorandum directing Guanzon and Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal, director of the poll body’s law department, to explain within 24 hours “under whose authority the comment was filed.”

Bautista said that if the explanation was unsatisfactory, he would be “constrained to inform the Supreme Court that the filing of the comment was unauthorized.”

Guanzon took to Twitter to defend herself. She posted a statement claiming that she had the authority to file the comment.

“I must emphasize that as a commissioner, I am not a subordinate or [an] employee of Chair Bautista and he has no administrative supervision or control over me,” Guanzon said.

She said the preparation and filing of the comment “had the imprimatur of the Comelec en banc.”

Bautista declined to comment on Guanzon’s statements on Saturday, saying he would take up the matter at a full session of the Comelec.

‘Insubordination’

In his statement Sunday, Escudero said he was appalled at the “insubordination and disrespect” shown by Guanzon toward Bautista.

“Even assuming [in the course of the argument] that she is not a subordinate of the chair as she claims, the Comelec is a collegial body that always acts collectively, and not individually,” Escudero said.

“This validates our observation that Commissioner Guanzon is a threat to democracy and the conduct of the elections come May,” he said.

He asked Bautista to fight attempts from within the Comelec to undermine the integrity of the poll body and to “expose these people who are seeking to sabotage the electoral process.”

“It is his duty to the Filipino people if only to reassure voters that their sacred right to vote, to choose the next leaders of the country, is protected,” Escudero said.

He also urged Guanzon to make public the full-commission resolution that she claimed authorized her to file the comment and use the names of the other election commissioners in the document.

Investigative power

Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, a spokesperson for Poe, Sunday insisted that Bautista had the authority to investigate members of the commission.

“[A]s head of the institution, [Bautista] has the mandate to put the house in order,” Gatchalian said, commenting on Guanzon’s statement that Bautista had no administrative supervision or control over her.

“What’s happening [in the] Comelec is a source of concern for the public,” Gatchalian said.

If the Comelec, tasked with overseeing orderly elections, is in disarray, he said, “the public interest is placed in danger.”

Speaking in an interview on dzBB radio Sunday, Guanzon railed against Gatchalian’s statement on Saturday that the Comelec was in disarray and his asking Bautista to expose members of the commission who had their own “political agenda” and working for Poe’s elimination from the presidential race.

‘Losers’


GUANZON


“You name us. All you do is talk and complain, because you are losers,” Guanzon said.

“Mr. Gatchalian, are you [saying] that the commissioners will tell on each other? What do you think of us? We are respectable, independent and intelligent people. Do not sow intrigue among us because we are not politicians,” she said.

“Who are you to tell us to name each other? We are not those Filipinos who ratted on fellow Filipinos during World War II,” she said, referring to makapili (traitors) who betrayed guerrillas to the Japanese during the war.

“There’s a difference between selling out your colleagues and giving the public the real score on what’s happening,” Gatchalian replied.

He lamented that Guanzon, being a former elected official, had “low regard for elected public officials.”
“Her statement seems to imply that,” he said.

On Twitter, Guanzon said it was improper for Poe’s camp to urge Bautista to investigate the election commissioners, as the Comelec chief had no power to do it and doing it would be perceived by the public as retaliation.

She said the power of the Comelec emanated from the full commission, not from the chair alone.

“We are an independent constitutional commission. Politicians should respect the Constitution and our independence,” she said.

No comment



Malacañang on Sunday refused to be drawn into the fray.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. declined to comment, but noted that Bautista had said he would take up the matter at a full session of the commission.

“The Comelec is an independent body. That is why it would be appropriate to just wait for the results of that meeting,” Coloma said.

Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas, one of Poe’s rivals for Malacañang, said the election commissioners were “mature” people who could resolve the controversy among themselves.

“Let us leave it to them. We have nothing to do with it. They are the ones to decide,” Roxas told reporters in Imus City, Cavite province, where he spoke at a meeting of the Pentecostal Ministry Church of Christ.
With reports from Jerry E. Esplanada and DJ Yap


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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