“At the start of his term, Chairman Pangarungan showed how important unity is for a collegial body like the Comelec.”
Before Saidamen Pangarungan was appointed by President Duterte as chairman of the Commission on Elections, he was chair of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos with cabinet rank.
During the last election year, Pangarungan applied for a gun ban exemption and saw exactly the flaws in the process – from application, submission of documents, processing, follow-up and final release. It was long and tedious, and in Lanao where many residents carry firearms and where guns are part of their culture, a cabinet official moving about without firearms for his security detail is unthinkable.
He said, for instance, when there is violence in Lanao, would he wait for a week for the Firearms committee to convene, before acting?
So, when Chairman Pangarungan was named Comelec chief a few weeks ago, he was in a position to tweak the procedures on election gun ban and the declaration of Comelec control in some areas where peace and order has deteriorated.
The Comelec en banc promulgated Resolution No. 10777, amending Resolutions 10728 and 10757, on April 6, aimed at recalibrating the rules and regulation on the election gun ban.
The new resolution gives the chairman the power to grant gun ban exemptions and place areas under Comelec’s control, formerly the turf of Commissioner Socorro Inting, chair of the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Concerns (CBFSC). Inting resigned from the committee “in protest,” and was joined by Commissioners Marlon Casquejo and Aimee Ferolino in rejecting the new policy.
Among those who voted for Resolution No. 10777 were newly appointed Commissioners Rey Bulay, George Garcia and Aimee Neri along with Pangarungan.
It was timely that on Wednesday, Chairman Pangarungan calmed the waves saying “dissent is an integral element of democracy.”
“As a member of a Commission that enables our democratic exercise, I welcome the differing opinions and stances of my colleagues. This is part and parcel of our sacred duty to the nation as a collegial body.”
“I have nothing but respect for the valuable work done by all our Commissioners, especially by Commissioner Inting in the CBFSC and all the committees that ensure the conduct of honest, peaceful, and credible elections.”
“We are professionals and we will continue to work towards a common goal,” he added.
At the start of his term, Chairman Pangarungan showed how important unity is for a collegial body like the Comelec. There was a time, immediately preceding the term of Chairman Benjamin Abalos, that no en banc meeting was held because the en banc members were hopelessly divided. Abalos, the cheerful problem-solver that he is, united the commissioners and achieved the right results.
Anyway, Pangarungan assured he will use the power to declare Comelec control sparingly, only with the recommendation of the PNP and AFP.
Pangarungan is doing another Abalos this time, and to his credit. He will need all the cooperation of the en banc to implement clean, honest, and credible elections.
The latest news from Commissioner George Garcia is that the en banc has deferred action on the resignation request of Inting, which she submitted as “irrevocable”.
Good luck to Chairman Pangarungan and Commissioner Garcia for moving in the direction of unity rather than division, especially now that we are nearing the May 2022 elections.
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Pole vaulter EJ Obiena can now heave a sigh of relief.
This was after the Commission on Audit cleared him of any irregularity related to his liquidation of his government-funded expenditure, including the salary allocation for his Ukrainian coach.
And no less than Senator Francis ‘Tol’ N. Tolentino welcomed the latest CoA findings, saying the 26-year-old Olympian can now shift his attention and solely focus on the real upcoming battles ahead, especially the 31stSoutheast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam next month and the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China this coming September.
In a letter sent by COA to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) dated March 31, 2022, state auditors clarified that they “have not issued any Notice of Suspension nor Notice of Disallowance” over the government-funded assistance given to Obiena amounting to P12.34 million between June 2019 until August 2022.
“This will definitely put a final closure on the matter. EJ’s sole job is only to train hard and to perform well for his upcoming tournaments. Hindi niya trabaho na maging isang accountant,” said Tolentino.
Last March 17, Tolentino and three other senators filed a motion for contempt against top honchos of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association for bringing the case of Obiena before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland after the botched mediation between the two camps.
The current World No. 5 pole vaulter and the Patafa leadership later reconciled last March 30 and “agreed to a settlement” as announced earlier by PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez.
All’s well that ends well.