Commission on Elections (Philippines)

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Commission on Elections
Komisyon sa Halalan
Commission on Elections (COMELEC).svg
Official seal
AbbreviationCOMELEC
MottoProtecting the sanctity of the ballot since 1940
PredecessorDepartment of Interior
FormationAugust 22, 1940
HeadquartersPalacio del Gobernador
Location
Chairman
Sheriff M. Abas
Budget
₱3.84 billion (2020)[1]
Websitewww.comelec.gov.ph
Coat of arms of the Philippines.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Philippines
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The Commission on Elections (Filipino: Komisyon sa Halalan), usually abbreviated as COMELEC,[2] is one of the three constitutional commissions of the Philippines. Its principal role is to enforce all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of elections in the Philippines.

Functions[edit]

According to Article IX-C, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, the Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers and functions:[3]

  1. Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall.
  2. Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction. Decisions, final orders, or rulings of the Commission on election contests involving elective municipal and barangay offices shall be final, executory, and not appealable.
  3. Decide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting elections, including determination of the number and location of polling places, appointment of election officials and inspectors, and registration of voters.
  4. Deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the Government, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for the exclusive purpose of ensuring free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections.
  5. Register, after sufficient publication, political parties, organizations, or coalitions which, in addition to other requirements, must present their platform or program of government; and accredit citizens’ arms of the Commission on Elections. Religious denominations and sects shall not be registered. Those which seek to achieve their goals through violence or unlawful means, or refuse to uphold and adhere to this Constitution, or which are supported by any foreign government shall likewise be refused registration. Financial contributions from foreign governments and their agencies to political parties, organizations, coalitions, or candidates related to elections constitute interference in national affairs, and, when accepted, shall be an additional ground for the cancellation of their registration with the Commission, in addition to other penalties that may be prescribed by law.
  6. File, upon a verified complaint, or on its own initiative, petitions in court for inclusion or exclusion of voters; investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases of violations of election laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds, offenses, and malpractices.
  7. Recommend to the Congress effective measures to minimize election spending, including limitation of places where propaganda materials shall be posted, and to prevent and penalize all forms of election frauds, offenses, malpractices, and nuisance candidacies.
  8. Recommend to the President the removal of any officer or employee it has deputized, or the imposition of any other disciplinary action, for violation or disregard of, or disobedience to its directive, order, or decision.
  9. Submit to the President and the Congress a comprehensive report on the conduct of each election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, or recall.

History[edit]

The 1978 Commission was composed of [from left] Commissioners Flores A. Bayot, Venancio Duque, Chairman Leonardo Perez, Commissioners Domingo Pabalete and Vicente Santiago (not in the photo).

Predecessor[edit]

The Executive Bureau[edit]

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) was created by a 1940 amendment to the 1935 Constitution of the Philippines. Before the creation of the COMELEC, supervision over the conduct of elections was vested by law in the Executive Bureau under the Department of Interior and, later directly by the same Department. The Secretary of Interior saw to it that local authorities performed the ministerial duties assigned to them by the Election Code. He decides administrative questions concerning elections. The courts, however, exercised exclusive and final jurisdiction over questions affecting the right to vote as well as contested elections of local elective officials. Elections contests involving members of the National Assembly were judged solely by an Electoral Commission composed of three justices of the Supreme Court and six members of the National Assembly.

Statutory commission[edit]

In view, however, of the close official ties between the President and the Secretary of Interior, there was always the danger of a partisan Secretary of the Interior exploiting his powers and influence to ensure the victory of his party at the polls. As a consequence, the Constitution was amended in 1940 to create an independent Commission on Elections, composed of a Chairman and two other members, to take over the functions of the Secretary of the Interior relative to the elections. but since the amendments could not be effective in time for the 1940 elections, the National Assembly, by Commonwealth Act No. 607, created a Commission on Elections, giving thereto the same powers which the Commission on Elections could have under the amended Constitution. The statutory Commission supervised the conduct of the December 10, 1940 local elections.

Creation[edit]

The constitutional amendment creating the Commission on Elections was finally approved on December 2, 1940. On June 21, 1941, Commonwealth Act No. 657 was enacted reorganizing the Commission on Elections as a constitutional entity. The members of the statutory Commission continued as members of the constitutional Commission.

The Chairman and Members of the Commission had a fixed term of nine years each – a member being replaced every three years except in the first Commission. They could be removed from office only by impeachment. They were provided with fixed salaries which could neither be increased nor diminished during their term of office. These were safeguards to ensure the independence of the Commission.

The administrative control of elections exercised by the Secretary of Interior was transferred to the Commission on Elections. The Commission was vested with the exclusive charge of enforcing and administering all laws relative to elections and power to decide all questions affecting elections, except those involving the right to vote, which were left to final judicial determination. The courts and electoral tribunals retained their original powers over election contests.

Membership expansion[edit]

The 1973 Constitution enlarged the membership of the Commission from three to nine members but reduced their term of office from nine years to seven years. As in the 1935 Constitution, the Chairman and Commissioners have staggered terms of office and could be removed from office only by impeachment.

First to serve in the Commission on Elections under the 1973 Constitution were former Senator Leonardo B. Perez, as Chairman, and Venacio S. Duque, Flores A. Bayot, Jose M. Mendoza, Fernando R. Veloso, Lininding Pangandaman, Venancio L. Yaneza and Casimiro R. Madarang, Jr. as Commissioners. Commissioner Pangandaman, the first Muslim Commissioner of the COMELEC, was appointed Ambassador by President Ferdinand Marcos even before the expiration of his term. His unexpired term was taken over by Commissioner Hashim R. Abubakar.

On May 17, 1980, Chairman Perez (who was later appointed Minister on Political Affairs by President Marcos) and Commissioners Duque and Bayot, after completing their seven-years term, retired. Commissioner Santiago succeeded Perez, and the following were appointed Commissioners: Domingo C. Pabalete; Victorino A. Savellano; Jaime C. Opinion; Noli Sagadraca; Romeo Firme: Luis Lardizabal and Ide C. Tillah. With Commissioner Lardizabal the membership of the Commission was thus increased to eight, one short of the full complement of nine.

Upon the retirement of Commissioners Firme, Tillah and Lardizabal on May 17, 1983 the Commission on Elections was composed of only five members. On March 21, 1983, two new members were appointed by President Marcos, namely: Froilan Bacungan and Ramon H. Felipe, Jr. With the retirement of Chairman Santiago and Commissioners Pabalete and Sagadraca on May 17, 1984, Savellano was appointed Chairman. Three new members were appointed on July 27, 1985, namely: Commissioners Quirino A. Marquinez, Mangontawar Guro and Mario D. Ortiz. On January 31, 1986 Commissioners Ruben C. Agpalo and Jaime Layosa were appointed to finally complete the required membership of nine.

After the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution[edit]

After the tumultuous February 7, 1986 snap elections and the People Power Revolution, Chairman Savellano and all the Commissioners of the COMELEC tendered their courtesy resignations which, except those of Commissioners Bacungan and Felipe, were accepted by President Corazon C. Aquino.

On April 11, 1986 Commissioner Felipe was appointed Acting Chairman. On July 23, 1986 he took his oath of office as permanent Chairman, together with Commissioners Leopoldo Africa, Haydee Yorac, Andres Flores, Anacleto Badoy, and Dario Rama as members of the "new" Commission on Elections. On February 15, 1988 Hilario G. Davide, Jr., was appointed Chairman with Alfredo E. Abueg, Jr., Haydee B. Yorac, Leopoldo L. Africa, Andres R. Flores, Dario C. Rama and Magdara B. Dimaampao as Commissioners. Commissioner Haydee B. Yorac was appointed as Acting Chairman when Hilario G. Davide, Jr. was appointed Chairman of the Presidential Fact Finding Commission in December 1989, pursuant to Administrative Order No. 146. On June 6, 1991 Christian Monsod was appointed by President Aquino as Chairman of the Commission to serve the unexpired term of Davide.

When Monsod retired on February 15, 1995 President Fidel V. Ramos appointed Court of Appeals Justice Bernardo Pardo as Chairman of the Commission. Pardo's term was cut short when he was appointed by President Joseph Estrada as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in October 1998. Commissioner Luzviminda Tancangco was appointed Acting Chairman of the Commission.

On January 11, 1999 President Estrada appointed Sandiganbayan Justice Harriet Demetriou as Chairman of the Commission. After the events of January 17 to 20, 2001 that led to the ouster and resignation of President Estrada from power, Demetriou tendered her courtesy resignation which was accepted by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

On February 19, 2001 President Arroyo appointed Justice Alfredo Benipayo as Chairman of the Commission. However, the Commission on Appointments did not confirm his appointment due to opposition of some Commissioners led by Luzviminda Tancangco. On June 5, 2002 President Arroyo appointed Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman and former Mandaluyong City mayor Benjamin S. Abalos, Sr. to replace Benipayo. On January 26, 2008, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed former Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Melo, 77, to replace Chair Abalos.[4] The United Opposition (Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino) opposed Melo's appointment.[5] But Melo needs to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA), so Commissioner Romeo A. Brawner was appointed ad interim Acting Chairman on February 2, 2008 and will stay as Chairman until Melo is confirmed by the CA. On March 25, 2008, former Supreme Court justice Jose Melo was sworn in as new chairman of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) by acting Chair Romeo A. Brawner. Melo's ad interim appointment (Congress is not in session) was sent by the Malacañan to the Commission on Appointments.[6]

On May 29, 2008, Romeo A. Brawner died from a massive heart attack. Brawner, appointed to the COMELEC to replace the controversial Virgilio Garcillano, was supposed to end his term on February 2, 2011.[7] Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, on July 2, 2008, appointed former Acting Judge (Br. 74, RTC, Malabon) Leonardo Leonida and retired Justice of the Court of Appeals Lucenito Tagle as Commissioners of the Commission on Elections.[8][9] On November 7, 2008, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has appointed Armando Velasco, as new election commissioner, and reappointed bypassed Commissioners Leonardo L. Leonida and Lucenito N. Tagle.[10] Eduardo Ermita stated "Velasco replaced COMELEC commissioner and former Iligan City Judge Moslemen Macarambon, Jr. whose appointment had been bypassed several times by the Commission on Appointments (CA)."[11][12]

Impeachment complaint[edit]

On September 27, 2007, Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico filed a 69-page impeachment complaint (3:00 p.m.) against Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos, Sr. before the House of Representatives of the Philippines regarding the ZTE national broadband network (NBN) deal. It was endorsed by Representatives Teofisto Guingona III of Bukidnon and Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna (People First), and Zamboanga City Representative Ma. Isabelle Climaco. Affidavits of Romulo Neri and Jose de Venecia III supported the complaint.[13][14] On October 1, 2007, COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos, Sr. faced with an impending impeachment case resigned in a press conference. The Commission on Elections appointed Resurreccion Z. Borra as Acting Chairman. Mr. Abalos stated: "I'm resigning... effective immediately," Mr. Abalos told a news conference. "However, let not my detractors feast on this declaration. I'm not admitting guilt for any wrongdoing."[15] An impeachment complaint against Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr was formally filed before the House of Representatives after Romulo Neri, former chief of the National Economic Development Authority (Neda), accused Abalos of attempting to bribe him.

Organization[edit]

COMELEC, Palacio del Gobernador, Intramuros.

The Commission proper is the policy-making body composed of the Chairman and six Commissioners who must be natural-born citizens of the Philippines; at least thirty-five years of age at the time of their appointment; holders of a college degree, with a majority of them, including the Chairman, members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years; and must not have been a candidate for any elective position in the immediate preceding elections.[16] The Chairman and the Commissioners are appointed by the President, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments and hold office for seven years, without reappointment. The Chairman acts as the Presiding Officer and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission. Assisting the Commission are an executive director and deputies, 17 Regional Election Directors, Provincial Election Supervisors and Election Officers in cities and municipalities. COMELEC has more than 15,000 employees.

The Commissioners exercise quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial functions either en banc or in division. They also perform such other functions as may be assigned by the Commission or the Chairman.

Current members[edit]

Name Term began Term scheduled to end Position Appointed by
Sheriff M. Abas May 23, 2018* February 2, 2022 Chairman Rodrigo Duterte
Rowena V. Guanzon April 28, 2015 February 2, 2022 Commissioner Benigno Aquino III
Socorro B. Inting April 17, 2018 February 2, 2025 Commissioner Rodrigo Duterte
Marlon S. Casquejo June 19, 2018 February 2, 2025 Commissioner Rodrigo Duterte
Antonio T. Kho, Jr. July 11, 2018 February 2, 2022 Commissioner Rodrigo Duterte
Michael B. Peloton September 21, 2020 February 2, 2027 Commissioner Rodrigo Duterte
Aimee F. Ampoloquio November 24, 2020 February 2, 2027 Commissioner Rodrigo Duterte

*Was previously appointed as commissioner by Benigno Aquino III in April 28. 2015; was appointed chairman by Rodrigo Duterte in 2018 to serve the remaining term of Andres D. Bautista who had earlier resigned.

Former chairmen[edit]

Chairman[17] Term began Term ended Appointed by General elections oversaw
Pedro Concepcion September 1, 1940 May 11, 1941 Manuel L. Quezon none
Jose Vito May 13, 1941 May 7, 1947 Manuel L. Quezon 1941, 1946
Vicente de Vera April 9, 1947 April 10, 1951 Manuel Roxas 1949
Domingo Imperial August 14, 1951 March 31, 1958 Elpidio Quirino 1953, 1957
Jose Carag May 19, 1958 June 20, 1959 Carlos P. Garcia none
Gaudencio Garcia May 12, 1960 June 20, 1962 Carlos P. Garcia 1961
Juan Borra August 2, 1962 June 20, 1968 Diosdado Macapagal 1965
Manuel Arranz October 18, 1968 June 2, 1969 Ferdinand Marcos none
Jaime Ferrer June 10, 1969 May 28, 1973 Ferdinand Marcos 1969
Leonardo Perez May 29, 1973 May 17, 1980 Ferdinand Marcos 1978
Vicente Santiago Jr. May 17, 1980 May 17, 1985 Ferdinand Marcos 1981, 1984
Victorino Savellano May 20, 1985 March 24, 1986 Ferdinand Marcos 1986
Ramon Felipe Jr. July 11, 1986 February 3, 1988 Corazon Aquino 1987
Hilario Davide Jr. February 15, 1988 January 12, 1990 Corazon Aquino none
Christian Monsod June 6, 1991 February 15, 1995 Corazon Aquino 1992
Bernardo P. Pardo February 17, 1995 October 7, 1998 Fidel V. Ramos 1995, 1998
Harriet Demetriou January 11, 1999 February 15, 2001 Joseph Estrada none
Alfredo Benipayo February 15, 2001 June 5, 2002 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo 2001
Benjamin Abalos June 17, 2002 February 2, 2007 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo 2007
Jose Melo March 25, 2008 January 15, 2011 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo 2010
Sixto Brillantes January 17, 2011 February 2, 2015 Benigno Aquino III 2013
Andres D. Bautista April 28, 2015 October 23, 2017 Benigno Aquino III 2016

Former commissioners[edit]

Commissioner[17] Term began Term ended Appointed by
Jose C. Abreu September 1, 1940 October 11, 1944 Manuel L. Quezon
Rufino Luna September 1, 1940 July 12, 1945 Manuel L. Quezon
Francisco Engage July 12, 1945 November 9, 1949 Sergio Osmeña
Vicente de Vera July 12, 1945 April 8, 1951 Sergio Osmeña
Leopoldo Rovira May 22, 1947 September 10, 1954 Manuel Roxas
Rodrigo Perez Jr. December 8, 1949 June 21, 1956 Manuel Roxas
Gaudencio Garcia May 18, 1955 June 20, 1962 Ramon Magsaysay
Sixto Brillantes December 20, 1956 June 20, 1965 Ramon Magsaysay
Genaro Visarra May 12, 1960 November 10, 1962 Carlos P. Garcia
Cesar Miraflor November 11, 1962 June 20, 1971 Diosdado Macapagal
Gregorio Santayana June 26, 1965 May 31, 1966 Diosdado Macapagal
Francisco Ortega December 25, 1966 March 20, 1967 Ferdinand Marcos
Manuel Arranz August 27, 1967 June 2, 1969 Ferdinand Marcos
Jaime N. Ferrer May 23, 1969 May 28, 1973 Ferdinand Marcos
Lino M. Patajo June 16, 1969 May 31, 1973 Ferdinand Marcos
Jose M. Mendoza September 6, 1971 May 17, 1973 Ferdinand Marcos
Liningding Pangandaman May 29, 1973 November 15, 1973 Ferdinand Marcos
Flores A. Bayot May 30, 1973 May 17, 1980 Ferdinand Marcos
Venancio R. Yaneza May 30, 1973 May 17, 1980 Ferdinand Marcos
Casimiro R. Madarang Jr. May 30, 1973 May 17, 1980 Ferdinand Marcos
Fernando R. Veloso May 30, 1973 May 17, 1980 Ferdinand Marcos
Venancio S. Duque June 1, 1973 May 17, 1980 Ferdinand Marcos
Domingo C. Pabalate May 17, 1978 May 17, 1985 Ferdinand Marcos
Vicente M. Santiago Jr. May 17, 1978 May 17, 1985 Ferdinand Marcos
Victorino A. Savellano May 17, 1980 May 17, 1987 Ferdinand Marcos
Jaime C. Opinion May 17, 1980 May 17, 1987 Ferdinand Marcos
Noli M. Sagadraca May 17, 1980 May 17, 1985 Ferdinand Marcos
Romeo N. Firme May 17, 1980 May 17, 1983 Ferdinand Marcos
Ide C. Tillah May 17, 1980 May 17, 1983 Ferdinand Marcos
Luis L. Lardizabal May 17, 1980 May 17, 1983 Ferdinand Marcos
Froilan M. Bacungan March 21, 1984 May 17, 1990 Corazon Aquino
Ramon H. Felipe Jr. March 21, 1984 May 17, 1990 Corazon Aquino
Mario D. Ortiz July 30, 1985 July 23, 1986 Corazon Aquino
Mangontawar B. Guro July 30, 1985 April 11, 1986 Corazon Aquino
Quirino A. Marquinez August 1, 1985 July 23, 1986 Corazon Aquino
Ruben Agpalo January 2, 1986 July 23, 1986 Corazon Aquino
Jaime J. Layosa January 29, 1986 July 23, 1986 Corazon Aquino
Leopoldo L. Africa June 14, 1986 February 15, 1991 Corazon Aquino
Haydee B. Yorac July 15, 1986 February 11, 1993 Corazon Aquino
Dario C. Rama July 16, 1986 February 15, 1993 Corazon Aquino
Anacleto D. Badoy Jr. July 16, 1986 February 3, 1988 Corazon Aquino
Andres R. Flores July 17, 1986 February 15, 1991 Corazon Aquino
Tomas V. dela Cruz December 11, 1986 September 3, 1987 Corazon Aquino
Alfredo E. Abueg Jr. December 16, 1987 January 20, 1992 Corazon Aquino
Magdara B. Dimaampao February 15, 1988 February 15, 1995 Corazon Aquino
Froilan M. Bacungan February 15, 1988 January 12, 1990 Corazon Aquino
Regalado E. Maambong June 6, 1991 February 15, 1998 Corazon Aquino
Vicente B. de Lima February 7, 1992 November 4, 1994 Corazon Aquino
Remedios S. Fernando February 14, 1992 February 14, 1998 Corazon Aquino
Graduacion R. Claravall April 12, 1993 June 14, 1996 Fidel V. Ramos
Manolo B. Gorospe April 14, 1993 February 14, 2000 Fidel V. Ramos
Julio F. Desamito January 3, 1995 February 15, 2001 Fidel V. Ramos
Teresita D. Flores February 17, 1995 February 15, 2001 Fidel V. Ramos
Japal M. Guiani March 29, 1996 February 15, 2001 Joseph Estrada
Amado M. Calderon February 16, 1998 June 30, 1998 Joseph Estrada
Evalyn I. Fetalino February 16, 1998 June 30, 1998 Joseph Estrada
Luzviminda G. Tancangco August 5, 1998 February 2, 2004 Joseph Estrada
Abdul Gani Marohombsar September 7, 1998 June 3, 1999 Joseph Estrada
Ralph C. Lantion January 6, 2000 February 2, 2004 Joseph Estrada
Rufino S. Javier April 4, 2000 February 2, 2006 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Mehol K. Sadain July 17, 2000 February 2, 2006 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Resurreccion Z. Borra February 15, 2001 February 2, 2008 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Florentino A. Tuason Jr. February 20, 2001 February 2, 2008 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Virgilio O. Garcillano February 12, 2004 June 10, 2005 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Manuel A. Barcellona Jr. February 12, 2004 June 10, 2005 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Rene V. Sarmiento April 7, 2006 February 2, 2013 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Nicodemo T. Ferrer June 15, 2006 February 2, 2011 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Moslemen T. Macarambon November 5, 2007 October 10, 2008 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Leonardo L. Leonida July 2, 2008 February 11, 2011 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Lucenito N. Tagle July 3, 2008 February 2, 2011 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Armando C. Velasco July 3, 2008 February 2, 2013 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Elias R. Yusoph July 24, 2009 February 2, 2015 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Gregorio Y. Larrazabal October 15, 2009 February 2, 2011 Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Christian Robert S. Lim April 7, 2011 February 2, 2018 Benigno Aquino III
Augusto C. Lagman June 3, 2011 April 16, 2012 Benigno Aquino III
Maria Gracia Cielo M. Padaca October 8, 2012 June 11, 2014 Benigno Aquino III
Luie Tito F. Guia April 15, 2013 February 2, 2020 Benigno Aquino III
Al Parreño April 15, 2013 February 2, 2020 Benigno Aquino III
Arthur D. Lim July 25, 2014 February 2, 2018 Benigno Aquino III
Sheriff M. Abas April 28, 2015 May 23, 2018* Benigno Aquino III

Issues and incidents[edit]

ZTE broadband contract controversy[edit]

In August 2007, Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla delivered a privilege speech alleging that Abalos brokered for the national broadband network (NBN) project. Padilla claimed that Abalos met with officials of the Chinese firm ZTE Corp., which got the US $329 million contract for the broadband project.

Abalos denied brokering for the National Broadband Network project despite admitting he knows some officials in ZTE Corp. He admitted making four trips to China and playing golf there. He also admitted that ZTE officials, whom he says are his golf buddies, hosted and paid for the trips.

Jose de Venecia III, son of House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr, alleged that Abalos offered him US$10 million to withdraw his proposal on the NBN project. De Venecia is a majority shareholder of Amsterdam Holdings Inc., a company that submitted an unsolicited proposal on the NBN project. De Venecia also claimed that Abalos asked for money from the ZTE Corp. officials.

Hello Garci scandal[edit]

Abalos was mentioned in the "Hello Garci" tape, which refers to the alleged wiretapped conversations where vote rigging in the 2004 elections was discussed by, among others, a woman presumed to be President Arroyo and man presumed to be COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

Mega Pacific[edit]

Abalos was the COMELEC chair when the election body approved a P1.3-billion contract with the Mega Pacific Consortium for the purchase of automated counting machines, which the Supreme Court in January 2004 declared as void because of "clear violation of law and jurisprudence" and "reckless disregard of COMELEC's own bidding rules and procedure."

On January 21, 2004, Pimentel filed criminal and administrative charges before the Ombudsman against Abalos and other commissioners in connection with the deal. Abalos described the charges as a "demolition job."

Pimentel accused Abalos and the other commissioners of committing an act of impropriety when they and their wives traveled to Seoul, South Korea to visit the plant of the maker of the counting machines a few months before the bidding for the contract started. Pimentel said he received information that the Korean company paid for the plane tickets and hotel accommodations for the trip.

However, Abalos claimed that the expenses for the trip were paid for out of the P1 million he won in a golf tournament in Wack Wack.

On September 27, 2006, the Ombudsman, in a resolution, absolved all respondents involved in the Mega Pacific controversy of all administrative and criminal liabilities "for lack of probable cause." It also reversed its June 28 resolution which contained factual findings that can be used by the House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings against COMELEC Commissioner Resureccion Borra.

Website hacking[edit]

Overview[edit]

Just six weeks before the 2016 Philippine general election, the COMELEC website was hacked by a group called "Anonymous Philippines" on the night of March 27, 2016.[18] Anonymous Philippines asked the poll body to implement security on Precinct Count Optical Scanners (PCOS) — automated voting machines.[19] Another group calling itself LulzSec Pilipinas, claimed to have hacked COMELEC's website, and posted its database on their Facebook account shortly after Anonymous Philippines compromised COMELEC's website.[20][21] These exploits exposed voter data and the vulnerability of both voter registration data and the functionality of their website.[20] LulzSec posts 3 mirror links on their Facebook account that can be downloaded.[20] The incident was considered the biggest private leak data in the Philippine history and leaving millions of registered voters at risk.[22][23]

The sensitive information — includes full name, complete address, and passport number — of at least 55–70 million Filipino registered voters have been leaked publicly on a website called wehaveyourdata, which is allegedly created by hacker LulzSec Philippines.[24][25] Anyone who access this website can type their first, surname, and middle name of the compromised registered voters on the search bar provided and then the sensitive information will reveal.[26] The website is now taken down by NBI on April 22.[27] COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez warned the public not to use that website as this could be the phishing site.[28] On April 21, COMELEC apologizes for privacy attacks made by the hackers.[29]

Arrests[edit]

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have been apprehended two suspected hackers within last two weeks of April 2016.[30]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Aika Rey (January 8, 2020). "Where will the money go?". Rappler. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  2. ^ home page of the COMELEC website accessed January 28, 2016 consistently uses the all upper case abbreviation of "COMELEC" rather than "Comelec"
  3. ^ Article IX-C, Section 2, 1987 Constitution of the Philippines
  4. ^ Marichu Villanueva Melo named new COMELEC chairman Archived April 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. asianjournalusa.com (January 26, 2008)
  5. ^ Opposition questions Melo's appointment as poll chief. gmanetwork.com. Video (January 26, 2008)
  6. ^ Melo sworn in as COMELEC chairman Archived April 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Newsinfo.inquirer.net (March 25, 2008). Retrieved on 2011-12-16.
  7. ^ Brawner's death leaves 3 vacancies in Comelec-spokesman – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos Archived June 1, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Newsinfo.inquirer.net. (May 29, 2008) Retrieved on 2011-12-16.
  8. ^ 2 Comelec commissioners named Archived October 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Newsinfo.inquirer.net (June 9, 2010). Retrieved on 2011-12-16.
  9. ^ gmanews.tv/story, Arroyo names 2 new Comelec commissioners – report. Gmanews.tv (July 2, 2008). Retrieved on 2011-12-16.
  10. ^ New election commissioner named Archived November 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Newsinfo.inquirer.net. (November 7, 2008) Retrieved on 2011-12-16.
  11. ^ New Comelec commissioner named; Macarambon out?. Beta.philstar.com (November 8, 2008). Retrieved on 2011-12-16.
  12. ^ New poll commissioner vows changes Archived November 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Newsinfo.inquirer.net. (November 9, 2008) Retrieved on 2011-12-16.
  13. ^ Impeachment raps filed vs Abalos at House by Iloilo vice gov Archived October 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Inquirer.net. Retrieved on December 16, 2011.
  14. ^ Impeachment raps filed vs Abalos over ZTE controversy. Gmanews.tv (September 27, 2007). Retrieved on 2011-12-16.
  15. ^ WSJ, Philippine Voting Chief Quits Amid Bribe Queries[dead link]
  16. ^ Article IX-C, Section 1, 1987 Constitution of the Philippines
  17. ^ a b "Past Members of COMELEC". Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  18. ^ "Comelec website hacked a month before polls". Rappler. March 27, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  19. ^ "LOOK: Comelec website hacked". Philippine Daily Inquirer. March 28, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  20. ^ a b c "Comelec data leaked by hackers". Rappler. March 28, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  21. ^ "Anonymous PH hacks Comelec website". CNN Philippines. March 29, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  22. ^ "Experts fear identity theft, scams due to Comelec leak". April 1, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  23. ^ "'COMELEAKS' Lawmakers: Voter database breach compromises May 9 elections; PNP joins probe". Interaksyon. April 22, 2016. Archived from the original on April 23, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  24. ^ "Stolen Comelec data 'ripe for identity theft'". ABS-CBN News. April 21, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  25. ^ "Website claims: Registered voters' sensitive data easily searchable". CNN Philippines. April 22, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  26. ^ "NBI: Comelec site hacker did it for bragging rights". Manila Bulletin. April 22, 2016. Archived from the original on April 25, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  27. ^ "Searchable website with hacked data taken down – Comelec". CNN Philippines. April 22, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  28. ^ "Data breach: Website uploads voter info, Comelec downplays leak". ABS-CBN News. April 21, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  29. ^ "Comelec apologizes to public as new website leaks voters data". April 21, 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  30. ^ "LulzSec Philippines Member Arrested for the COMELEC Hack".

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