By: Elena Grace Flores
President Du30’s newly appointed Comelec Chairman to replace Andres Bautista, Sheriff Abass was previously a Commissioner of the Commission on Election as per the appointment made by the former President Benigno Aquino III. Abas is the nephew of Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal. Iqbal was under Bongbong Marcos’ scrutiny over his non-disclosure of his real name that was also a factor of the BBL halt.
[VIDEO]: Sen. Bongbong Marcos says Iqbal alias will affect BBL
President Rodrigo Du30 appoints Commission on Elections commissioner Sheriff Abas as the new Comelec chairman. He replaces the controversial Andres Bautista. Abas’ appointment papers were signed on Wednesday, November 22. He will serve until February 2, 2022, which is Bautista’s remaining term.
Serving the Government All his Professional Life
A law professor, Abas worked as acting assistant regional director of the Civil Service Commission in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. This was until his appointment to the Comelec. He worked at the CSC from June 2007 until April 2015.
Appointee of Both Governments
Abas replaces Bautista who resigned and directed to make his resignation effective immediately by the President last October. Many Marcos loyalists’ eyebrows can raise on the fact that he was an Aquino appointee. Nevertheless, he is also an appointee of Du30 now. That should balance his loyalty.
As a Comelec commissioner, he headed the packing and shipping committee. He should have full knowledge of how the handling and moving of the ballots from Bongbong Marcos’ key cities can be done effectively and safely for the electoral protest against Leni Robredo. Given his professional and personal affiliations, Marcos’ call for recount is the biggest test for his unbiased decision.
Bongbong Marcos receives a Letter from the COMELEC to inform the parties that the Senate Electoral Tribunal already has the custody of the ballot boxes and other election documents in twenty-three pilot precincts in Basilan and Maguindanao. This is relative to the election protest of Tolentino vs. De Lima. Presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino claimed that several irregularities were uncovered in the first three days of the ongoing ballot recount. It is not clear why it went ahead of the much awaited Vice Presidential recount.
[VIDEO]: NAKAPAGDESISYON NA! ANG SENATE ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL RECOUNT OF VOTES NI TOLENTINO!
Protestant Present during Recount
Tolentino witnessed the counting at the SET building inside the Commission on Audit compound in Quezon City. The former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman went to personally observe the recount of the contested 635 ballot boxes containing ballots used during the May 9, 2016, automated senatorial elections.
He said several ballot boxes in pilot precincts in Calbayog City in Samar contained ballots that were used during the 2013 midterm elections. Tolentino said he will seek the nullification of vote results in the precincts where 2013 ballots were uncovered. The former MMDA chairman, who ran as an independent candidate, lost to De Lima by 1.2 million votes. Tolentino described De Lima’s lead over him as “dubious,” saying the gap between the 12th and 13th placers is usually just around 40,000 votes.
Another Recount to Follow
COMELEC also informed the parties that it would start to prepare for the recount of votes in the election protest of Tan vs. Hataman. Former Vice Governor Sakur Tan questions Governor Mujiv Hataman re-election victory during the 2016 polls. Therefore, the Marcos vs Robredo recount can very well be postponed for next year.
Further Delay of Marcos’ Protest
Based on the recount trend, it is evident that Marcos’ protest against Robredo is definitely not the priority of the COMELEC this year. It is then a false hope for the Marcos loyalists to expect for a recount anytime soon. This is not likely to happen considering Comelec’s publicized schedule.
Bongbong Marcos asks why an LP media highlighted his bid for the Presidency when it is still in 2022? He explained that the electoral protest against VP Leni Robredo is crucial right now among other things. It seems like there’s a propaganda pattern that portrays pro-administration officials as Presidentiables. This goes the same with PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa. He just said that he will quadruple the current pensions of police retirees if he becomes president – but he never said that he will run for President because obviously, the presidential election is still far away. He is more concerned about terrorist attacks possibly during Undas.
[VIDEO]: WOW BONGBONG MARCOS BUKAS SA POSIBILIDAD NA TUMAKBO BILANG PANGULO PANOORIN
Undas Special Overpowered by Presidential Bids
In one Undas special, the PNP Chief warned people to be vigilant during the November 1 All Saints Day and November 2 All Souls Day commemorations in crowded places like cemeteries. Instead of stressing this out, the video footage’s subtitle stresses what he wants to do if he becomes president just like what they did to Marcos. Are they trying to shield VP Leni Robredo’s ambition to be president?
Electoral Protest Update
The Supreme Court that sits as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal ruled that the Comelec must pay for the storage fees of election materials kept in foreign posts. In a 6-page decision dated October 10, the PET denied the Comelec’s petition requesting that the storage fees be shouldered instead by Marcos who had filed an electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
Storage Fees Liability
The incurred storage fee is already over P4.5-million for New York and Hong Kong alone. Comelec reasons that since the PPO instructs them to preserve and safeguard the integrity of the ballots. So, they are stocked in the foreign posts which resulted in additional costs. However, the PET slams them down by saying that they can make them safe if they are responsible enough to plan the logistics of the transport back to the country.
Respect for the Saints and the Departed
Filipinos flock to the cemeteries to visit their departed loved ones during these holidays. Politics are set aside when family and friends get together to remember the dead. Some people adopt the Western Halloween traditions like the “trick or treat” event for the children and the costume parties for teenagers and adults. Traditional Filipino families just light a candle at home with native delicacies like sweetened sticky rice and other favorites.
Bongbong Marcos’s electoral protest is a win some, lose some scenario. Just recently, the Supreme Court orders the COMELEC to start the decryption and printing of ballot images that can take at least 7 months. At this time of writing, the PET junks the petition for him to pay the overseas storage fees for the election materials as the delays of his case against Vice President Leni Robredo take effect due to the delaying tactics of his opponent.
[VIDEO]: The decryption and printing of ballot images for Bongbong Marcos’ protest against VP Leni Robredo will take seven months.
COMELEC’s Petition to the Supreme Court
The COMELEC asks the PET earlier that Marcos should shoulder the storage fees for ballot boxes that include other election materials kept abroad. They said that the Precautionary Protective Order or PPO issued by the PET requires them to safeguard those proofs. That stops them to shipping them back to the country.
PET’s Favors Marcos
The Supreme Court that sits as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal or PET rules that the Comelec should pay for the cost of the overseas storage of election materials and not Bongbong Marcos. It is now official as the resolution is made public.
Amount of Overseas Storage Fees
For New York and Hong Kong alone, the incurred storage fee is already over P4.5-million, Comelec said. Comelec claimed that since the PPO instructed them to preserve and safeguard the integrity of the ballots and other election materials. They could not bring them back to the Comelec office in Manila within the required period. So, the same had to be stocked in the foreign posts which resulted in additional costs.
The PET rejects Comelec’s argument saying the PPO did not prohibit them from transferring the ballots and other election-related materials to Manila. “There is nothing in the PPO that prohibited the physical transfer of the election materials and paraphernalia. The Comelec was merely required to preserve and safeguard their integrity. Thus, the Comelec’s proffered reason that its faithful compliance to the PPO has no basis,” the PET resolution stated.
Bongbong Marcos’ spokesman Atty. Vic Rodriguez said that after18 long months, the Supreme Court may have finally noticed VP Leni Robredo’s ploy to “hold up the proceedings,” The PET recently ordered the exploratory teams to start locating the ballot boxes in the clustered precincts of Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental. So that it could order its retrieval and transfer to Manila for the recount. This is covered recently in the discussion between Marcos and Erwin Tulfo.
[VIDEO]: ERWIN TULFO AND BONGBONG MARCOS, TALK ABOUT THE ELECTORAL PROTEST AND THE DU30 ADMINISTRATION!
Supreme Court’s Order
In a resolution dated October 10, the PET ordered the members of the Exploratory and Retrieval Team to go to Camarines Sur. This is scheduled either on October 16 to 20 or from October 23 to 27. The purpose is to locate all the ballot boxes and map out the logistics needed for their retrieval and transportation to the Supreme Court compound in Manila. This is where the revision and recount of votes will take place.
Robredo’s Holding Up Election Protest
Rodriguez explained that, in the last year and a half, Robredo’s camp questions Marcos’s efforts to expedite the resolution of his election protest. Even his move for technical examination and evaluation of the Election Day Computerized Voters’ List of the three Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao provinces is under scrutiny. That is the subject of a separate cause of action.
Win or Lose
Bongbong Marcos laments that under international standard, the electoral protest already takes a very long time. The process is slow and he is suspicious of the outgoing COMELEC Chair’s actions. Win or lose, the PET should resolve this immediately. He discloses that an upcoming bidding is about to happen for the 2019 elections. Perhaps, Bautista wants to influence the future elections before his resignation becomes effective. He is grateful to some Congressmen like Gwen Garcia of Cebu who insists to impeach him if he stays until the end of the year. Good thing that the President let him resign effective immediately. So, impeachment is not anymore necessary.
Still Confident and Happy with the Progress
Bongbong Marcos replied to Tulfo on his inquiry if he thinks that he can surely win without the Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Naturally, as an anti-Marcos, she has the tendency to block any ruling in his favor but hopes that she can be diplomatic about it. Meanwhile, his lawyer said added; “We are glad that the case is finally moving forward because each step forward is a step closer to the truth.”