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Thursday, November 30, 2023

On his way out?

“A broadcaster’s source claims the Comelec spokesman will either be suspended or kicked out of office.”

If broadcaster Anthony Taberna and his source are to be believed, it seems Commission on Elections spokesman James Jimenez may be well on his way out.

Yesterday, Taberna showed screen shots of his exchange of messages with his source whom he claims to be a high-ranking Comelec official, saying Jimenez will either be suspended or kicked out of office.

Aside from that, Jimenez will likely be slapped with a criminal case, Taberna’s source bares.

This was after Jimenez, and another Comelec director, Francis Arabe, were suspected of brokering an allegedly grossly disadvantageous partnership with Impact Hub Manila, a start-up contracted to mount this year’s series of election debates that eventually faltered.

It could be recalled that the last leg of the presidential debates organized by IHM was canceled after the checks amounting to P14 million to Sofitel representing payment to the hotel for serving as venue for the event, bounced. Reportedly, Jimenez and Arabe made moves to vouch for Impact Hub after it failed to pay the hotel as agreed upon in their contract, even working for the release of P15 million of Comelec funds to IHM.

In an internal memorandum, Comelec Commissioner Rey Bulay asked the two to explain the alleged irregularities.

Among the things being questioned by Bulay were Jimenez guaranteeing in behalf of Comelec IHM’s obligation to Sofitel and the decision to release P15 million from Comelec funds to pay Sofitel, even as no basis has been cited so far for the release of such funds.

“If Comelec releases P15 million of public funds, Comelec will be wrongly covering up Impact Hub’s liability, as Comelec will be paying on behalf of Impact Hub,” Bulay stressed.

In Jimenez’s letter addressed to Sofitel Philippines general manager Olivier Larcher, the Comelec spokesman cited a certain “notice of award” granted to IHM which states that “Impact Hub Manila will receive a total of P15,300,000 for the staging of the said debates.”

“These documents are sufficient proof that the provider will be paid by Comelec,” Jimenez states in his letter.

Personally, I find this ridiculous.

As an organizer, IHM has already earned all the rights pertaining to the staging of the debates and this includes its airing and the solicitation of sponsors.

The moment IHM conceptualized its proposal for the organizing of the presidential debates, it knew it stood to benefit from the event big time.

Unfortunately, the project failed after the expected biggest crowd-drawer, Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard bearer, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. backed off. Which turned out to be a wise decision after all (more on that later).

With no assured crowd-drawer, sponsorships were lean in coming. Thus, the projected revenue IHM was supposed to rake in did not materialize.

But as I’ve said, it was a wise decision for BBM. He was going to be fed to the lions if he did attend the debates as lawyer Gideon Peña, one of the IHM officers, turned out to be a friend of an avowed Pinklawan, Kris Aquino, and a supporter of Leni Robredo.

In his social media post, Peña stated that if was to choose one person whom he would want to meet, that would be no less than Aquino, who he had already met anyway.

“And through the years of our friendship, that is one of the coincidences of life that I’m grateful about,” Peña says of her friendship with Kris.

In another social media post, Peña extols Robredo on her campaign line.

“Look at how cities and municipalities showcase their culture and tradition during rallies of Leni Robredo. Finally, a campaign that’s not just about a candidate but also about the people,” read Peña’s post.

So, why would BBM bother to attend an event organized by supporters of his opponent, where he would draw in the crowds to enjoin sponsors, only to be roasted in the end? Igigisa sa sariling mantika?

And according to a friend, it was no wonder, the lady candidate was prepared with her answers, with the organizers on her side.

But with Jimenez reportedly on his way out, it seems they are about to lose their supposedly biggest ally from within.

Local Facebook fact checkers on the rampage

With the elections only less than two weeks from now, it appears local fact checkers of the biggest social media platform, Facebook, have now unleashed an “all-out persecution” of known supporters of their Pinklawan candidate.

The other day, BBM chief of staff and spokesman lawyer Vic Rodriguez had his FB account suspended for 30 days for “violating their community standard,” when he was only posting Marcos’ campaign platform.

This comes after several BBM supporters also complained of having their FB accounts restricted. Last week, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon also had his social media account restricted for posting matters involving national security matters.

However, the fact checkers apparently came to their senses when Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla sent them a letter asking them for an explanation and at the same time warning them of the possibility of being banned in the Philippines.

As of yesterday, they have reinstated Rodriguez’s FB account and the others whose accounts were restricted.

Maybe these fact checkers have forgotten that Mark Zuckerberg, is first and foremost, a businessman, who might not be inclined to support their political advocacies, much more, their preferences for local politics of which he has no interest.

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