Arroyo election lawyer resigns over poll deferment dispute
MANILA, Philippines – The long-time election lawyer of President Arroyo has resigned over a dispute with Malacañang on the timing of elections given the new technical glitches that cropped up a week before the May 10 polls.
President Arroyo on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Romulo B. Macalintal as her election lawyer.
“The President has acceeded to Atty. Macalintal’s request,” Malacañang said in a statement Wednesday evening.
“Having taken a position in favor of postponing elections, which is not in line with the Palace stance, Atty. Romulo Macalintal requested the President to be allowed to resign as her election lawyer,” the statement said.
On Tuesday, Macalintal issued a statement that “postponement of the election is the only remedy to prevent a failure of election.”
Macalintal gave his proposal after the wrong configuration of the memory cards in voting machines were discovered during a mock poll on Monday. This major technical glitch was made public on Tuesday, when Comelec and its voting counting machines supplier, Smartmatic-Total Information Management, decided to recall all 76,000 flash cards for reconfiguration
Macalintal said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is authorized to postpone the polls under certain conditions. He added that Comelec must have a back-up plan, which includes resorting back to manual counting, if a glitch-free automation is not assured.
On Wednesday, however, Comelec stood its ground that the nationwide elections will push through as scheduled.
A few hours after, Palace spokesperson Gary Olivar told reporters that Malacañang will defer to the Comelec‘s decision.
“The Palace respects the independence of the Comelec, and defers to its judgment and decisions on all matters regarding the conduct of elections,” Malacañang said in its statement Wednesday evening.
“No official authorized to speak for the President has suggested any change in the election date,” it added.
Macalintal has over 25-year experience as an election lawyer. – with report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News