By Ray Chen S. Bahinting
The Silliman University Student Government Commission on Elections (COMELEC) dismissed 22 disqualification and penalization cases filed by the Concerted Action for the Upliftment of Students’ Endeavors (CAUSE) party against the candidates of the Students Union for Reforms (SURE) party.
Most of these complaints filed by CAUSE party were said to be violations of the Article III, Section 6 of the “Rules and Regulations for the Conduct of the February 24, 2016 SUSG Elections” by presidential-elect Gil Buenavista, College of Engineering representative Glynese Ikeda, CBA representatives such as Matthew Tumunong, Anna Humbe, Blue Cruz and Monique Recto, Yasmeen Junaid from the College of Law, and SURE party members like Kirk Philip Emperado, “majority of supporters” of the SURE party, and the SURE Party itself.
The rule states that all campaign materials, including online propaganda, must be removed by the candidates and/or the political parties on or before midnight of Feb. 22, 2016.
However, COMELEC dismissed these complaints against Buenavista and among others because according to COMELEC, the said rule is “void for vagueness.”
According to a report submitted by the COMELEC, “if this [provision] be properly reviewed, it would mean that no campaign materials must have been posted after 11:59 in the evening of Feb. 21, 2016, because a minute after that would be 12 midnight of Feb. 22, 2016 already. If this construction would be followed, most candidates, if not all, from both parties should be held liable.”
Moreover, the COMELEC also took into consideration in dismissing these cases the credibility of the evidence passed by CAUSE party.
In the report, COMELEC said that the evidences such as screenshots and meta-data are “not sufficient and can be undoubtedly manipulated.”
Most of the screenshots that were submitted to the COMELEC did not specify any date, and if there is, it is still “questionable.”
COMELEC also clarified that Article III, Section 6 did not necessarily state that any candidate violator shall be automatically disqualified or fines shall be imposed to the non-candidate violators. This rule is “merely directory and not mandatory.”
Violation by Figueras
A complaint to impose fine filed by CAUSE party to Fritz Colleen Figueras, chairperson of SURE party, was also dismissed.
CAUSE party said that Figueras violated Article III, Section 2 (E) that states, “Posting pictures and videos online through the following social media websites: Facebook and YouTube.”
According to CAUSE party, Figueras used her Twitter account to tweet a post that contained SURE Party’s online campaign material.
COMELEC dismissed this case believing that the post on Twitter was not “actual and direct.”
COMELEC said that the post of Figueras on her Facebook page, which was a legal medium, was the exact caption on Figueras’ tweet.
This will clearly state that Figueras “did not intentionally” post on Twitter, according to COMELEC.
CAUSE party also submitted a timestamp to the COMELEC but according to them, “timestamp does not and cannot prove that indeed, the act was committed within the campaign period. Further, the said timestamp cannot be used in replacement of one of the most essential and determining factor: the date.”
Moot and Academic Cases
COMELEC decided on disqualification cases against SURE party representatives like Patricia Navarro of the College of Nursing, Edna Masicampo of the College of Mass Communication, and Keanu Sygaco of the Silliman University Junior High School and among others, as “moot and academic.”
According to the COMELEC, since Sygaco and among others failed to win in the election, “this means that there is no more actual controversy between the parties or no useful purpose can be served in passing upon the merits.”
Thus, these cases are also dismissed for being “moot and academic.”
The decision of the COMELEC was passed to the Judiciary branch for final judgement.