ALMOST nine months since the May 2022 national and local polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday, January 27, 2023, affirmed its recognition of the group of former energy secretary Alfonso Cusi as representatives of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP–Laban).

In a vote of 5-1-1, the Comelec en banc affirmed the May 6, 2022 decision of its Special Second Division declaring the Cusi wing as “true and official members” of PDP-Laban, instead of the group of Senator Koko Pimentel and former senator Manny Pacquiao.

“A careful review reveals that respondents failed to raise new matters or issues. We find that Respondents merely reiterated their previous assertions before the Commission (Special Second Division),” said the Comelec en banc.

“In view of the foregoing, the Commission (En Banc) denies Respondents’ Motion for Reconsideration Ex Abundanti Ad Cautelam dated 11 May 2022, and affirms the Resolution of the Commission (Special Second Division) promulgated on 06 May 2022,” it added.

In effect, the poll body recognized anew the validity of the May 31, 2021 and July 16, 2021 National Council Meetings, and the July 17, 2021 National Assembly, including its resolutions and subsequent acts of the Cusi wing.

On the issue of jurisdiction, the Comelec en banc said it was correct in taking cognizance of the petition as the core issue of the case relates to the Sworn Information and Update Statements (SIUS) and the petition to cancel the same SIUS, which are administrative in nature.

As for the issue of legal standing, the commission ruled that the petitioners are in the position to file the petition as they are members of the political party, who have personal and substantial interest in the case.

“As to the rest of the arguments in the MR, the en banc did not find novel issues to be tackled and found no cogent reason to disturb the decision of the Comelec Special Second Division,” the commission said.

In September 2021, the group of Cusi filed a petition to the Comelec against the camp of Pimentel and Pacquiao asking the poll body to declare the latter as illegal representatives of PDP-Laban.

This after the two camps of PDP-Laban each submitted their SIUS with the Comelec as required by the poll body ahead of the May 2022 polls. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)