“Temporary relief” of Comelec spox Jimenez recommended as poll body starts formal probe on debate fiasco

Comelec Task Force probing “PiliPinas Debates 2022 fiasco” finds “reasonable cause” to also start administrative disciplinary probe against Directors Jimenez, Arabe

(File photo) Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez speaking during the May 13, 2019 presscon of the poll body. (Eagle News Service)


(Eagle News) – A top official of the Commission on Elections has recommended the relief of the poll body’s spokesperson Director James Jimenez and Frances Arabe as the commission is set to start a “formal fact-finding and administrative disciplinary investigation” regarding the alleged anomalies in the PiliPinas Debates 2022.

Comelec commissioner Rey Bulay said he is recommending that Directors Jimenez and Arabe who are both working in the Comelec’s Education and Information Division (EID) to be “temporarily relieved from any functions involving media relations and exposure.”

In a statement on, Friday, April 29, Bulay said he is seeking the relief of Jimenez and Arabe pushing that they be replaced “to prevent disruption in the essential election operations.”

Bulay said that “upon the instruction of Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan, he assembled the Task Force PiliPinas Debates 2022 Fiasco to conduct the investigation on the issue.”

“To continue the duties of Directors Jimenez and Arabe in the Education and Information Department (EID), it was recommended that temporary replacements be designated,” he said in a statement.

Bulay said that the “elections being a few days away, Directors Jimenez and Arabe were recommended to continue other functions under the supervision of their committee heads.”

The statement said that Bulay already submitted the names of the members of the Task Force and his recommendation to the Comelec chair on April 27 for the latter’s consideration.

On Thursday, April 28, after a discussion on the Task Force’s preliminary findings, it found “reasonable cause to commence a formal fact-finding and administrative disciplinary investigation.”

Aside from Bulay, the other members of the Task Force are the Executive Director, Director of the Finance Services department, and Director of the Law department.

-Due process to be observed in probe-

Bulay said he is also considering including the director of the Comelec’s personnel department in the Task Force since personnel of the poll body are involved.

This would also ensure the observance of due process and the conduct of a “thorough, proper, fair and impartial probe.”

Bulay said that “as much as possible, while the investigation is ongoing,” he cannot release information on the issue to “avoid trial by publicity” and to “preserve the dignity of the procesures.”

This is also in consideration of the “presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties” that the government officials enjoy.

The Commission on Elections office in Intramuros, Manila (File photo)

The Comelec recently had to postpone the presidential and vice-presidential debates that were scheduled at the Sofitel Manila venue due to the alleged failure of Impact Hub Manila, the company behind Vote Pilipinas, to pay Sofitel the balance of around P14 million.

-Jimenez guarantees payment-

Jimenez allegedly assured Sofitel that it would be paid its balance.

Before that, the checks issued by Impact Hub Manila to Sofitel all bounced due to unavailable funds.

The Comelec only learned of this when Sofitel informed the poll body about it and sought its help in collecting the funds.The Comelec commissioners were reportedly unaware that Jimenez had virtually served as a guarantor for Impact Hub Manila, when he wrote Sofitel assuring the hotel management that it would be paid.

Impact Hub Manila also earlier issued a statement saying that the Comelec was not a party to the contract between Impact Hub Manila and Sofitel.

The Comelec also said that it would not release any public funds for Sofitel, and that its memorandum of agreement with Impact Hub Manila stated that its services were supposed to be free of charge.

(Eagle News Service)