COMELEC on “special treatment” to Cusi-led PDP-Laban during the COC filing.
COMELEC – The Commission on Elections pushed back on criticisms that the poll body gave preferential treatment to Cusi-led PDP-Laban when its senatorial aspirants filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) last October 8.
On Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go visited Sofitel’s Harbor Garden tent to endorse the seven candidates of the PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfredo Cusi.
The President raised the hand of each candidate after the slate’s certificates of candidacy were filed. They were cabinet members Salvador Panelo, Mark Villar, John Castriciones, and Greco Belgica; broadcaster Rey Langit; actor Robin Padilla; and House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta.
In an end-of-day briefing Friday, COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez said that every candidate for senator was allowed two companions but the only companions they had were President Duterte and Senator Bong Go.
“What happened earlier was that we did have companions for the candidates who are filing for the Senate, but they were removed from the premises and in the end, it was only the President who was left together with SAP Go to stand with the candidates for senator. Under the rules, each candidate for senator is allowed two companions, but in the end, the only companions they had were President Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Bong Go,” Jimenez said.
COMELEC guidelines for this year’s COC filing stated that an aspirant for president, vice president, and senator can bring with them a maximum of three (3) people to the venue.
Also, the poll body downplayed the holding of hands that took place inside the Sofitel tent. Jimenez said that while they maintained some social distance at the venue, it had been the practice to raise the hands of candidates and that was a “momentary thing”.
Prior to the Comelec briefing, Senator Nancy Binay slammed the poll body for supposedly giving the Cusi-led PDP-Laban “special treatment” during the COC filing.
Reacting to Senator Binay’s tweet, the poll body said that the presence of President Duterte’s security details may have led to the impression that special accommodations were made for the President’s ruling party.