THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) expects to resolve the intra-party dispute of the ruling PDP-Laban party this month, according to a commissioner.
Election Commissioner George M. Garcia would also inhibit himself from the case because he used to be a lawyer of the party, he told the ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday.
“I will not be participating in the deliberations on the petition simply because I used to be a lawyer of the PDP-Laban when both camps were united,” he said. “If they ask for guidance, I can give insights or historical background but definitely not influencing the outcome of this case.”
The election body earlier allowed candidates from both factions to use the party name on their printed ballots pending a decision on the dispute.
The faction headed by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi on Monday endorsed the presidential run of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. President Rodrigo R. Duterte supports the group.
Senator Aquilino “Koko” L. Pimentel III, who heads the rival faction that includes Senator and boxing champion Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao, on Tuesday cited the irony of the endorsement, noting that the party was set up in the 1980s to fight the dictatorship of Marcos, Jr.’s father, the late Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Mr. Garcia also urged the public to file complaints on vote-buying incidents so they could study the evidence presented and require the defendants to respond to the allegations. The election commissioner reiterated that they would form a task force against vote-buying this week.
“We want a formal investigation because definitely, we cannot file cases based on news reports,” he said. “Cases with concrete evidence are the ones that can stand in court.”
Mr. Garcia also said Comelec is doing something about the reported data breach involving Smartmatic SGO Group, the software contractor for this year’s automated elections. He declined to elaborate so as not to prejudice an investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation.
Meanwhile, Comelec allowed a plea by Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo to allow her to continue her pandemic response initiatives during the campaign period.
“In an executive session today, the en banc granted the petition for exception of the Office of the Vice President of certain projects and programs during the 45-day period of the campaign,” Mr. Garcia said.
Under the law, candidates must get a permit from the election body for social welfare projects during the campaign period.
Ms. Robredo’s office provides free antigen testing, online consultation for coronavirus patients and vaccination. — J.V.D. Ordoñez