Quantcast
Latest Stories

New poll appointee credibility attacked

By ,

ELECTION ISSUE Newly appointed Comelec Commissioner Macabangkit Lanto has himself become a controversial issue. He’s shown with Commissioner Elias Yusoph (left) and Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Haunted by his past as a congressman who was unseated for poll fraud, newly appointed Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Macabangkit Lanto on Friday protested that he was a victim and that there was an “orchestrated move” to discredit him by people opposed to his appointment.

Lanto, 70, has barely had time to warm his seat as a Comelec commissioner but now has to answer attacks on his credibility arising from the 20-year-old case.

Malacañang on Friday said it was reviewing Lanto’s appointment after learning belatedly that he was unseated in 1994 for electoral fraud.

But Palace officials could not as yet say if the President could still withdraw the appointment.

“Apparently, there is an orchestrated move to discredit me because of an event that happened 20 years ago when I was unseated as congressman of Lanao del Norte,” Lanto said in a press conference that was called soon after he paid a courtesy  call on Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. Friday.

In 1994, Lanto was stripped of his congressional post after the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) ruled that he appeared to have been the beneficiary of election fraud, which got him elected as congressman of the second district of Lanao del Norte in the 1992 elections.

The HRET decision cited two falsified municipal certificates of canvass, which it noted were derived from tampered election returns (ERs). It also noted that ballots had been tampered with to support the fake ERs.

Lanto reclaimed the congressional post when he ran—and won—in the 1998 elections for the same district.

 

Victim not perpetrator

Lanto on Friday said he won the election “fair and square” and that, like Sen. Joker Arroyo, he was a victim of manipulation by a syndicate at the HRET at the time.

“The politicians whom I defeated cannot accept the fact that they lost to somebody who was unknown. I was just an ordinary practitioner in my province so they banded together and they filed a protest case against me,” he said.

He said he was pitted against powerful politicians in Lanao del Norte, who were proteges of the Dimaporo political clan and former senator and labor leader Ernesto Herrera.

“I didn’t have any backers at that time. Then President Cory Aquino wanted new faces, new leaders so I was asked by some friends to file my candidacy, [and] I filed and I won fair and square,” he said.

He admitted that his appointment to the Comelec was endorsed by Sen. Franklin Drilon, the campaign manager of the Team PNoy senatorial slate.

President Aquino on Thursday appointed Lanto to one of two commissioner posts left vacant by the retirement last month of Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco. The other new appointee is lawyer Maria Bernadette Sardillo.

Lanto said he was ready to serve the Comelec with independence and impartiality. He also vowed to pursue the electoral reforms being pursued by the Comelec.

“I think my previous record in the government will [prove that] … I have shown independence and impartiality, [and] there was never a case filed against me for corruption or indiscretion,” he said.

“At my age, I can say that I have no wish but to leave a mark in the commission, and I will be impartial in my judgment,” he said.

Lanto previously served as justice undersecretary and tourism undersecretary. He also served as the country’s ambassador to Egypt and Sudan.

He currently serves as a consultant for the Senate committee on finance chaired by Drilon. He is also a consultant of the oversight committee on labor and employment chaired by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.

Social contract with Pinoys

Though already signed, Lanto’s appointment papers have yet to be submitted to the congressional Commission on Appointments (CA) for approval as Congress is currently in recess.

“We’re discussing options, but nothing to announce yet,” said a Palace official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda went ahead and issued a statement anyway in an apparent attempt at sparing Mr. Aquino from embarrassment.

“On the issue of Mac Lanto, this is our statement: ‘Our social contract with the Filipino people includes the restoration of the credibility of the electoral process as one of its main tasks. Be assured that any concerns about Comelec appointments will be resolved in a timely manner,’” said Lacierda.

He told a Palace briefing that he had no knowledge of how Lanto was vetted. “I’m not part of the search committee, so I’m not privy to the process. But let me ask the search committee if they were aware of this issue,” he said.

Lacierda refused to confirm if Drilon had indeed endorsed the appointment of Lanto.

Neither was he “in a position to answer” if the President would recall the appointment as it has yet to be transmitted to the CA.

When he announced the new Comelec appointments in an ambush interview, the President said that he was “sending their appointment to Congress for confirmation by the Commission on Appointments.”

He described Lanto in glowing terms, saying that the former lawmaker had occupied several government positions with a “very extensive” track record as ambassador to Egypt and Sudan.

“He has proven his worth, I believe, during the times that he performed, or tried to perform, his function when the higher-ups were preventing him from doing what should have been done,” Mr. Aquino said.

In 2001, Drilon recommended that Lanto be appointed officer in charge and acting governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

He said Lanto possessed the “combined skills of a diplomat, a graft-busting prosecutor and effective manager-bureaucrat.”

The Inquirer tried to contact Drilon yesterday but the senator had yet to respond as of press time. A member of his staff said he was attending a wedding on Friday.

No party to fraud

Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III, the spokesperson for the administration’s Liberal Party-led coalition, said it was for Lanto to answer the negative publicity surrounding his appointment.

He said the ruling coalition would not be a party to any fraud in the May elections, in reaction to a statement from rival United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

“First of all, let’s put it into context. [Lanto’s] incident happened 20 years ago. We leave it to the wisdom of the appointing power to choose who he feels he has confidence in,” Tañada told a news briefing.

“Now, what you can be sure is that Team PNoy will stand for clean and honest elections, and we believe that Mr. Lanto will be able to answer whatever accusation is hurled against him. And I think he has been doing that,” he added.

Team PNoy spokesperson Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo said Lanto still had to go through the confirmation wringer of the CA.

“Each candidate or appointee is given his or her day in court to explain his or her capability, all his or her positive points and track record.  So we will let the process take care of that,” he said.

UNA campaign manager Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco alleged that Lanto had landed the Comelec post because Drilon had lobbied for him.

“He has no other qualification except being a crony of Senator Drilon. Being a congressman who was removed from office because of fraud is not something that gets you into the Comelec,” Tiangco said in a statement.

“How can the people trust a Comelec commissioner who was proven to have cheated? How can he be expected to watch out for cheating when he himself was found and proven to have benefited from fraud?”  he said.

Tiangco warned of a “sinister agenda” behind Lanto’s appointment, which is to ensure the victory of all 12 senatorial candidates of the administration’s Team PNoy.

“Our information is that Senator Drilon really lobbied hard for the appointment of Lanto. He desperately wanted Lanto in the Comelec. There is obviously a sinister agenda behind it and that agenda is Drilon’s 12-0,” he said.

“Senator Drilon has been consistent in his fearless forecast of an administration sweep of the May elections. With the surprise appointment of his crony to the Comelec, we now know the reason for his smugness. He has an added ace in the Comelec,” he added. With Christian V. Esguerra

 First posted 8:04 pm | Friday, March 8th, 2013


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Comelec , eleksyon 2013 , Elias Yusoph , Macabangkit Lanto , Politics , poll fraud , Sixto Brillantes , UNA




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Opinions split on Napoles turning state witness
  3. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  4. Plunder complaint filed vs PNP chief, firearms office head over license delivery deal
  5. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  6. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  7. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  10. Boy ‘sexually assaulted’ at Indonesia international school
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
Advertisement

News

  • Lacson eyes P106-B ‘Yolanda’ rehab masterplan
  • What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  • Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  • 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  • Napoles surgery in Makati hospital successful
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces; Painters repulse Bolts
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Visiting chefs from Denmark get creative with ‘ube,’ ‘ buko,’ ‘calamansi,’ mangoes
  • Salted baked potatoes
  • A first in a mall: Authentic Greek yogurt–made fresh in front of diners
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Philippine Airlines to stop shipment of shark fins
  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement