Comelec exec recommends relief of Jimenez, Arabe amid debate row

Commission on Election (Comelec) Commissioner Rey E. Bulay recommended the temporary “relief” of two poll officials linked to PiliPinas 2022 Debates fiasco.

Citing his preliminary findings on the case, Bulay said found “reasonable cause to commence a formal fact-finding and administrative disciplinary investigation” against Comelec Education and Information Department (EID) director James B. Jimenez and Frances A. Arabe.

Pending the conclusion of his probe, the poll official submitted a recommendation to Comelec Chairman Saidamen B. Pangarungan last Wed. to temporarily relieve both officials “from any functions involving media relations and exposure.” 

He said this will “ensure the observance of due process, and a thorough, proper, fair and impartial probe.” 

“The elections being a few days away, Directors Jimenez and Arabe were recommended to continue other functions under the supervision of their committee heads,” Bulay said. 
Bulay’s Office made the recommendation on 27 April 2022, for the latter’s consideration.
He declined to release additional information on the case to prevent “trial by publicity” of Jimenez and Arabe. 

Bulay was tasked by Pangarungan to look into the allegation of Sofitel Philippine Plaza against Vote Pilipinas or also known as Impact Hub Manila after the latter supposedly issued bouncing checks to settle its over P14 million bill with the former. 

Sofitel provided the venue for the first three parts of Comelec’s PiliPinas 2022 Debate series through an agreement with Vote Pilipinas. 
In an internal memo, Bulay tagged Jimenez and Arabe for  purportedly requesting the release of P15 million from Comelec funds to help Impact Hub to pay for the liabilities of Vote Pilipinas with Sofitel. 
He flagged the attempt since he stressed Comelec has no contractual obligation to help Vote Pilipinas pay its bills with Sofitel. 
As of press time, Jimenez and Arabe have yet to issue a statement on Bulay’s recommendation when sought for comment by the media on the said matter.  (Samuel Medenilla) 

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