The probe on the canceled presidential and vice-presidential town hall debates will not affect the Commission on Elections (Comelec) preparations for the 9 May 2022 national elections, an official of the poll body said on Sunday.
Commissioner George Garcia, in an interview Sunday, assured that the body will face the issues but it remains focused on the preparations for Monday’s polls.
“We should focus on the election preparations and whatever problems we may have, such as this debate issue, we’ll just solve it after because there’s a proper time for these things,” he said.
Garcia also stated that Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez did not receive a gag order despite his fellow Commissioner Rey Bulay’s recommendation of his temporary relief.
Also recommended for relief was Director Frances Arabe of the Education and Information Department. They were supposed to be barred from functions involving media relations and exposure.
He also shared that the Task Force found a reasonable cause to commence a formal fact-finding and administrative disciplinary investigation on the canceled debate on Thursday.
Bulay said he cannot release information on the issue while the investigation is ongoing. He said he wants to avoid trial by publicity and preserve the dignity of the procedures.
In a message to the reporters Friday night, Arabe vowed to comply with Bulay’s directive.
“I am prepared to turn over my duties to the person he will choose,” Arabe said.
The final leg of the Comelec-produced debates was scheduled 23 and 24 April. It was canceled after its production partner, Impact Hub Manila, failed to pay P14 million to the host hotel.