VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Video peddles FALSE claims Glenn Chong to replace Comelec’s Guanzon, Jimenez ‘fired’


Former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong will not be taking over Commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s post at the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Neither was Comelec director James Jimenez sacked as spokesperson, contrary to claims made in posts published by at least nine Facebook (FB) pages from Jan. 16 to 19.

The posts all bore the headline: “KAKAPASOK LANG SHOCKING! ATTY GLENN CHONG PAPALITAN NA SI ROWENA GUANZON JAMES JIMENEZ SIBAK COMELEC (Just in shocking! Atty. Glenn Chong to replace Rowena Guanzon James Jimenez axed Comelec).” They also carried either a 14-minute or a 16-minute excerpt from the Jan. 10 FB Live of the vlogger Maharlika.

The 78-minute livestream featured the blogger and Chong discussing issues about the Comelec, including the long-standing fraud allegations against the commission made by the former lawmaker. They also talked about the recent alleged hacking of the Comelec servers and the pending petitions challenging the candidacy of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in the May polls.

But nowhere in the video did Chong mention his supposed appointment as Comelec commissioner vice Guanzon, whose term expires on Feb. 2.

In a Jan. 25 press briefing, Jimenez dismissed the circulating claims as “false.”

“The claims in this video have been made on and off for the last three years. It is like a fantasy or a dream for whoever is behind these videos,” Jimenez, who has been the commission’s spokesperson since 2007, told reporters.

He emphasized that only the president is constitutionally authorized to appoint Comelec commissioners. As of writing, there has been no word from Malacañang on who President Rodrigo Duterte has chosen to fill the soon-to-be-vacated seats in the commission.

Aside from Guanzon, the terms of Comelec Chair Sheriff Abas and Commissioner Antonio Kho will likewise expire on Feb 2. In a Jan. 24 tweet, Guanzon said Commissioner Socorro Inting will serve as Comelec’s acting chairperson while Duterte has yet to make his appointments.

Additionally, a commissioner of a Constitutional Commission like Comelec may only be removed from office while serving their term through impeachment by Congress. There is currently no impeachment trial against Guanzon.

As to the claim that he was relieved from the position he has held for 14 years, Jimenez said that as a “career civil service official,” it is hard for him to get axed “for political purposes.”

There are no official announcements from the Comelec on Jimenez’s dismissal. His position is also not on the list of vacancies published on its website.

The false posts initially surfaced a day before the Comelec First and Second Divisions would issue their ruling on the petitions filed against the presidential bid of Marcos. On Jan. 17, the Second Division dismissed a petition to cancel the certificate of candidacy of the former senator. The petitioners have since filed their appeal to the Comelec en banc.

Meanwhile, the Guanzon-led First Division has yet to release its decision on the petitions calling for Marcos’ disqualification from the polls.

The earliest retrievable copy of the video was published by the page Bong bong Marcos Tayo Sa 2022 on Jan. 16. A copy of the video came out next on the Rodante Marcoleta Supporters Live page and was cross-posted on two other pages: Philippines Training Hot New. and Trending Ngayon TV.

Three days later, pages Andz showbiz and FLM OFW reposted the video bearing a similar false headline. FLM OFW’s copy was cross-posted on five other pages — and three under the pages DU30 One Tv, FLM Live, and Media TV remain live. Two others – one published under page FLM and another by an untraceable page – have been taken down.

These copies of the spurious video collectively received around 370,000 views from netizens.

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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)