by GABRIEL OLIVEROS, ZOE AIRABELLE AGUINALDO, and MARIANE YSABELLA PANTE
THE FACULTY of Arts and Letters Commission on Elections (AB Comelec) has lifted the suspension of DEKADA partylist members’ certificates of candidacy (CoCs) after clearing them of cheating allegations during this year’s miting de avance.
In a ruling released on May 11, the AB Comelec reinstated the DEKADA bets’ CoCs, saying the cheating allegations filed by the AB Board of Majors have no merit.
Last month, the CoCs of president-elect Timothy Santiago, candidate for internal vice-president Josh Moncayo, external vice president-elect Matthew Enriquez, secretary-elect Hannah Calara, auditor-elect Joseph Coronel and public relations officer-elect Rachelle Mirasol were suspended pending the hearings of their alleged violations of sections 4.4 and 4.11 of AB Comelec’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) No. 9.
The complaint cited the DEKADA members’ supposed “persistent coaching and cheating” during the ‘For or Against’ segment of the miting de avance despite receiving three warnings from members of the board and the commission.
The board also filed complaints of poll violations and misconduct against some DEKADA candidates for failing to comply with campaign requirements, premature campaigning, and soliciting support from the board and the Commission.
Independent candidate for secretary Gabriel Gabrillo was also accused of violating IRR No. 8 for seeking dialogues with the Board of Majors before the campaign period.
In a separate ruling, DEKADA campaign manager Hanielle Garcia, who was reportedly seen “meeting and/or hurdling with the DEKADA” during breaks, was found guilty of violating sections 4.9 and 4.11 under IRR No. 9 for providing technical cues throughout the miting de avance.
Garcia’s legal representative said providing nonverbal cues cannot be deemed as coaching without evidence. But section 4.9 of IRR No. 9 states that campaign managers may only assist their candidate by providing technical support during the setup and preparation of their presentation.
“However, they must refrain from giving cues, feedback, or prompts whenever the candidate speaks,” it read.
Section 4.11, meanwhile, covers “any other acts similar to the foregoing.”
The commission imposed a penalty on DEKADA for its first offense, warning that any repetition of the offense shall result in heavier penalties.
Last month, AB Comelec chairman Franz Soriano told The Flame that there would be “no ascension” for the suspended candidates who obtained the highest votes until all cases are cleared. F