Comelec

End of an era: James Jimenez bids farewell to Comelec after 2 decades

Dwight de Leon
End of an era: James Jimenez bids farewell to Comelec after 2 decades

FIASCO. Comelec spokesperson Director James Jimenez talks to the media at the Harbour Garden Tent of the Sofitel hotel in Pasay City.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Until the debate mess in May, Jimenez had been a formidable force in the Comelec, and is even proud to 'hold the distinction of having been the longest continuously serving spokesperson of any Philippine government institution'

MANILA, Philippines – James Jimenez, the long-time face of the Commission on Elections, is leaving the Comelec after two decades of service, the end of an era for an institution that benefited from his gift of gab for over 15 years.

Jimenez opted for early retirement on August 2, which the Comelec en banc approved on August 31. Comelec Chairman George Garcia announced it on Saturday, September 3.

“The whole Comelec family expresses its gratitude and appreciation to Director Jimenez for his long exemplary service to the nation through the commission. We wish him all the best as he embarks on this new chapter in his life,” Garcia said in a statement.

Jimenez was a formidable force in the Comelec, and is even proud to “hold the distinction of having been the longest continuously serving spokesperson of any Philippine government institution.”

He officially spoke for the Comelec beginning 2007, outlasting five Comelec chairmen from Benjamin Abalos to Sheriff Abas.

But his downfall came during the time of then-chairman Saidamen Pangarungan, who relieved him of his spokesman duties in May in the wake of the controversy surrounding the cancellation of the last two Comelec debates.

Jimenez was among the Comelec’s point persons in the poll body’s bungled partnership with Impact Hub Manila, whose chief executive officer issued repeated bounced checks to debate venue partner, Sofitel.

The private firm’s failure to settle its P14.095 million debt to Sofitel ultimately led to the cancellation of the last two presidential and vice presidential debates of the campaign season. As of writing, the Comelec has not provided updates on the outcome of its investigation into the matter.

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Despite the issue, Jimenez remained as chief of the poll body’s education and information department.

His Comelec career saw him bridge the gap between the poll body and the public on pressing election issues, as he answered questions on poll irregularities and intricate Comelec processes that are difficult to understand.

“James Jimenez is an aggressive believer in the transformative power of transparency in government service and has devoted his tenure at the Comelec to opening up windows for the public to see into the institution’s decision-making processes, operations, and culture,” his website bio read.

Garcia said Jimenez’s early retirement would be effective September 15.

Comelec executive director Bartolome Sinocruz Jr. wrote that Jimenez still needs to submit documentary requirements necessary to support his retirement claims. – Rappler.com

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.