De Lima urges COMELEC to immediately reject Cusi petition


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima urged the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to immediately throw out the petition filed by the supposedly dominant PDP-Laban party to reopen the Certificates of Candidacy (COC) for all elective positions in the 2022 National Elections.

De Lima, a former election lawyer, lamented how the COMELEC has chosen to let the petition of the PDP-Laban Cusi Wing to subsist for the time being instead of outrightly dismissing it for its “outlandish nature” and irregularity.

“There is no precedent for a petition of this kind, simply because the finalization of the list of candidates has always been imbued with urgency for the COMELEC to still entertain any petition of such kind that would effectively delay an already tight election schedule,” she said.

“COMELEC’s preparation for the elections always operated on the basis of clockwork implementation, leaving no room for delays, much less a deliberate scheme to set the schedule back to October four months before election day,” she added.

The COMELEC en banc has reportedly deferred the decision on the petition filed by the PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi seeking to reopen the filing of COCs and postpone the printing of the official ballots.

Last Dec. 31, 2021, Cusi filed before the polling body a petition to reopen the period of filing of COCs, saying the COMELEC “cannot and should not” proceed with printing of ballots while several cases on candidates and party-lists are still pending.

The lady Senator from Bicol reiterated that Cusi’s petition is an obvious attempt to push for a No-Election (No-El) scenario this year.

“Unless COMELEC throws it out at once, instead of blatantly wasting time until their retirement, there are ample grounds to speculate that the scheme is indeed being pushed in order to bring about a no-election scenario. This is because by February 2, all COMELEC commissioners will be Duterte appointees,” she explained.

“Duterte is also expected to replace the three outgoing commissioners with loyal appointees. By that time, it won’t be difficult for the Cusi petition to breeze through the COMELEC, especially if the new COMELEC chairperson and commissioners will be coming from the party leadership of the PDP-Laban Cusi Wing itself,” she added.

De Lima cited talks that the Secretary General of the PDP-Laban Cusi Wing, Atty. Melvin Matibag, is being groomed as the next COMELEC chairperson.

“If that happens, as they say, ‘tapos na ang boksing’ or, more appropriately, tapos na ang eleksyon,” she said.

“The silence of Malacañang on the Cusi petition to reopen the filing of COCs and postpone the printing of ballots is deafening. Coming from the party of the President, the petition is impliedly supported by the administration in the absence of any pronouncement to the contrary coming from Malacañang,” she added.

Considering the attempt to delay the May 2022 polls and extend President Duterte’s term, De Lima said she supports plan by Senate President Vicente Sotto III to elect a new leader who will serve as acting president if no other higher official is elected by June 30.

“I am fully supporting the plan of the Senate leadership to elect, before Congress adjourns in June 2022, a senator serving as the interim Senate President who will take over as caretaker President of the Republic in accordance with Sec. 7, Art. VII of the 1987 Constitution, in the event that the Cusi “no-el” scheme comes to fruition with the connivance of the COMELEC,” she said. (30)

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