THE FACULTY of Arts and Letters Commission on Elections (AB Comelec) has canceled the registration of 31-year-old political party DEKADA for violating campaign regulations during last year’s student council polls.
An AB Comelec ruling dated August 19 found DEKADA guilty of breaching a campaign suspension and the provisions of UST’s election code, resulting in the party’s disqualification from any electoral process.
DEKADA has not issued a statement on the decision.
In May, DEKADA’s former campaign manager Hanielle Garcia was found guilty of violating sections 4.9 and 4.11 under AB Comelec’s implementing rules and regulations no. 9 for providing technical cues throughout the miting de avance.
In its latest ruling, the AB Comelec said the complaints filed by former independent candidate for secretary Gabriel Gabrillo were meritorious. The decision came after the UST Central Comelec granted Gabrillo’s appeal to have the AB poll body investigate the following allegations in his complaint:
– DEKADA posted campaign materials at exactly 1 p.m. even if it was under campaign suspension until 1 p.m. due to its failure to submit the internet address of its campaign materials to AB Comelec;
– DEKADA, through its campaign manager Christian Caro, falsified approval from the AB Comelec by marking the entries green on its official campaign database via Google Sheets; and
– DEKADA posted campaign materials on March 25 without approval from the AB Comelec.
The poll commission’s database history revealed that Caro made an entry for one of DEKADA’s campaign materials at 1:44 p.m. for a post to be published at 1 p.m. It showed that no other person modified Caro’s entries despite these being marked green, implying approval from the poll body. The ruling also said that former AB Comelec chairman Franz Soriano and legal head Fionah Villalobos had denied approving any campaign material. AB Comelec sanctioned DEKADA for Caro’s actions as Section 6, IRR No. 8 states that the acts of a campaign manager are the acts of his or her respective political party or independent candidate.
DEKADA was also found guilty of failing to seek the commission’s approval for its published campaign material. The act violated Section 9, No. 8 of IRR, which requires intended online materials to undergo the poll body’s review before they are posted.
AB Comelec clarified that DEKADA’s winning candidates and Artlets Student Council’s incumbent president Timothy Santiago, external vice-president Matthew Enriquez, secretary Hannah Calara, auditor Joseph Coronel and public relations officer Rachelle Mirasol would remain in their posts as they were unaware of the poll violations committed by their campaign managers.
“As found during the hearing, Defendant DEKADA’s candidates had no personal knowledge of the violation of the suspension and the posting of the campaign materials without prior approval from AB COMELEC,” the ruling read.
“Absent proof of their prior knowledge of the same, the AB COMELEC Election Tribunal is to assume the innocence of the slate and acquit them from any charges. Thus, the winning candidates may assume office.” F – S.L. Macaraeg and M. Pascua