Monday, December 03, 2007


Hours after announcing his resignation on October 1, 2007, Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos returned to his office at the eight floor of the Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros to say his farewells and wrap up some unfinished business. Among those pending matters was a Supreme Court resolution dated August 28, 2007 asking the Comelec if they already proclaimed any nominee of Buhay Party-List.

Also brought to Abalos' attention was the criminal case filed against Rene Velarde, son of El Shaddai leader Bro. Mariano "Mike" Velarde, as well as Carissa Coscolluela and Irwin Tieng for attending the sessions of the House of Representatives without having been proclaimed as party-list congressmen (See Art. 177 of the Revised Penal Code, Usurpation of Public Authority).

Coscolluela served as the chief of staff of Sen. Richard Gordon. Irwin is the son of businessman William Tieng who had come under fire for allegedly supplying Duty-Free Philippines with chocolates that were either expired or banned in other countries for containing cancer-causing substances. Gordon and the elder Tieng are secret business partners of Lourdes "Beng" Velarde, Deputy Director-General of Duty-Free Philippines and wife of Rene Velarde.

The three accused were in the second and illegal list of Buhay nominees that was submitted by Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) Administrator Mel Robles who himself is facing graft charges against the Ombudsman. The Comelec, in a resolution dated July 19, 2007, allowed Robles to continue as chairman of the Buhay party despite the constitutional ban on civil servants from being members of political parties. This decision is presently being challenged in the Supreme Court by Christian Seneres who served as Buhay congressman for two terms and as Secretary-General of Buhay, submitted the original list of nominees on behalf of the party-list organization.

Amidst the commotion that surrounded Abalos' surprise resignation, and aware that the Supreme Court had taken notice of the Velarde group's attendance of congressional sessions, despite the pendency of the case and the non-proclamation of any Buhay nominee, Comelec Director Alioden Dalaig hastily prepared a certificate antedating the proclamation of Velarde, Coscolluela and Tieng to September 3, 2007 and routed it among the Comelec commissioners, including Abalos.

However, this contradicts Robles' arguments in the Supreme Court that the Comelec resolution allowing him to continue as Buhay chairman had the effect of proclaiming Velarde and his co-defendants. All three of Robles' nominees took their oaths of office before Chief Justice Reynato Puno on July 20, 2007 in the presence of Mike Velarde who personally assured the Chief Justice that they were already proclaimed by Comelec as of that date.

Robles' lawyer, Romulo Macalintal reiterated this claim in a comment that he submitted to the Supreme Court on September 17, 2007. In that comment, Macalintal made no mention whatsoever about any proclamation taking place on September 3, 2007. Velarde, Coscolluela and Tieng also made no references to any such proclamation in the sworn statements that they had made in the office of the Quezon City prosecutor on September 6 and September 13, 2007.

So, how could this be a valid proclamation when the individuals supposedly proclaimed were not even aware of it? Furthermore, the Supreme Court asked the Comelec on August 28, 2007 whether they already proclaimed any Buhay nominee, but instead of answering that very simple question, the Comelec asked for a 60-day extension within which to prepare a reply, and then on October 1, 2007, the Comelec informed the Supreme Court that they had "proclaimed" the Robles nominees on September 3, 2007 (five days after they were asked by the SC if there had been a proclamation).

This is a blatant act of 'kabastusan' by the Comelec and obviously shows a collusion with the Robles faction.

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