Comelec Chairman Bautista denies 'failed leadership'

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista on Friday, June 24, refuted the statement of all Comelec commissioners criticizing his supposedly "failed leadership" of the poll body.  

All 6 Comelec commissioners made this statement part of a strongly worded memo obtained by Rappler on Thursday, June 23.

In the memo, the Comelec commissioners hit Bautista for his supposed failures in the poll body, such as the delayed allowances of teachers who served as election inspectors. 

Bautista, who is in Japan, said in an interview with GMA News on Friday: "Meron ngang ginamit na phrase diyan na 'failed leadership' sa memong 'yan. Pero sabi ko nga, kung titingnan natin ‘yung nakaraang halalan, mas nakararami ang nagsasabi sa akin na siguro ito na ang pinakamatagumpay na halalan sa kasaysayan ng ating bansa.

(There's the phrase "failed leadership" that is used in that memo. But as I said, if we look at the previous elections, more people tell me that perhaps this is the most successful election in the history of our country.)

The US think tank Carter Center, for one, cited reports that the May 9 polls "marked a significant improvement over previous Philippine elections." The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections, a poll watchdog, lauded the Comelec this year as well.

Bautista: 'We have much work to do'

In his interview with GMA News on Friday, Bautista also cited the presidential and vice presidential debates initiated by the Comelec days before the May 9 polls.

He said this is the first set of Comelec-sponsored presidential and vice presidential debates in 24 years.

He said, "Ewan ko kung matatawag mo itong produkto ng failed leadership." (I don’t know if you can call that the product of a failed leadership.)

Bautista said he has spoken with a number of commissioners and will continue speaking with the rest next week, after his personal trip to Japan. 

A Comelec insider told Rappler they have been pushing for an "executive session" with Bautista, but the Comelec chairman has not entertained their request. 

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon told reporters on Friday: "He should just come back from his travel abroad and sit down with us. We have been asking him to sit down with us."

In any case, Bautista said it is crucial that nothing hampers the Comelec's work weeks after the May 9 polls, and months before the barangay (village) elections in October. "Marami pang trabahong dapat gawin." (We have much work to do.) – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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