Sardillo declines Comelec appointment


Election lawyer Maria Bernadette Sardillo has declined her appointment to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as President Benigno Aquino III races against time to fill the vacancies in two commissioner posts before the election ban on appointments starts on March 29.

Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Saturday confirmed Sardillo’s decision to decline the appointment.

“The President has accepted the withdrawal of the application,” said a Malacañang spokesperson, explaining that Sardillo begged off due to “health concerns” affecting a member of her family.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigal Valte said Sardillo wrote the President a letter on March 7 in which she formally declined the nomination.

In her letter, Sardillo said she was deeply grateful for having been considered as a commissioner in the Commission on Elections.

“However, it is also with deep regret that I am withdrawing my application to the commission. This decision was reached after consultation with my family which has prevailed upon me to remain in the private sector. Nevertheless, please be assured of my continued support of your administration. Thank you,” she wrote.

Mr. Aquino was still unaware of Sardillo’s letter when he was interviewed by the media on March 7 in Davao City, where he announced that he had appointed Sardillo and Macabangkit Lanto to the Comelec.

“This letter is dated March 7. I understand that it was shown to the President the next day, March 8, and the President has accepted the withdrawal of the application,” said Valte.

She said the Palace was also informed that “a family member of Sardillo has health concerns, and I think that was the reason the family asked her to remain in the private sector.”

Letter of desistance

But a member of the Cabinet told the INQUIRER that Sardillo wrote the “letter of desistance” after “her family strenuously objected (to her application), and she could not convince them otherwise.” The official asked not to be named since he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The family member is undergoing dialysis, the official said.

“Perhaps she thought she could overcome her family’s objections, but in the end, she could not. Her family didn’t want her to join the government, citing the stress and low pay. Her private practice paid well, allowing her to pay for the medications (of the sick family member),” said the official.

Brillantes said he was saddened by Sardillo’s decision.

“I learned that attorney Beng Sardillo declined her appointment as Comelec commissioner. I am deeply disappointed and saddened by it,” Brillantes said in his Twitter account.

Brillantes said Sardillo would have made a “great addition to the Comelec, particularly in disposing of the numerous election cases pending in the commission.

Sardillo and Lanto were to assume the two Comelec posts left vacant by the retirement last month of Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco.


Forced to answer

But on Friday, a day after he was named a Comelec commissioner, Lanto, 70, was forced to answer attacks on his credibility arising from a 20-year-old poll fraud case.

Malacañang is reviewing Lanto’s appointment after learning belatedly that he was unseated as a congressman in 1994 for electoral fraud.

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 fraud, which got him elected representative of the second district of Lanao del Norte in the 1992 elections.

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

In a statement, Lanto insisted that he “was a victim, not a beneficiary of poll fraud.”

As a neophyte politician then, Lanto claimed he fell “victim to the machinations of corrupt HRET Technical Group personnel who connived with members of a powerful clan in Lanao del Norte whom I embarrassed with my election victory.”

Lanto yesterday appealed to his critics to give him a chance to prove that he would be an independent and impartial election official.

Lanto admitted that he had sought Sen. Frank Drilon’s endorsement because the senator, “a long-time friend,” knew of his long, untainted record in government.

He said Drilon endorsed his appointment in April 2012 when a vacancy was created by the departure of then Commissioner Gus Lagman. He said that Drilon did not know at the time that he (Drilon) would be named campaign manager of the administration’s Team PNoy.

‘Baseless and silly’

“The insinuation that I was endorsed by Senator Drilon to manipulate the May elections for the administration candidates is totally baseless and silly,” Lanto said.

With Sardillo backing out, the Comelec Employees Union urged President Aquino to appoint an insider as commissioner.

The union earlier nominated Comelec Region II regional election lawyer Alexander Pilotin and Comelec Planning Department Director Ferdinand Rafanan.

“Our nominees are persons of integrity and competence. They are not tainted and, having served in the commission for a long time, their capabilities have been tested not just in running elections but also into looking after the welfare of Comelec employees,” the union said in a statement.

Brillantes said he was hoping the President would appoint an insider or an IT expert as commissioner.

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  • Weder-Weder Lang

    01. Sardillo has the good sense to decline the offer. If she’s got something to hide, she can bring it to her grave. She made the right decision.

    02. Lanto will continue to be under attack, not so much because of UNA but because of Drilon’s partymates who do not wish to see him have his bata-bata in Comelec and gain some advantage in 2016 presidential elections. Pangilinan, Drilon and Roxas may all be LP members but their political ambitions will lead them seeking other strange bedfellows. Surprise surprise. Or maybe not.

  • bullheaded

    The two appointees with blemished records and controversial past are too eager to accept the appointment as commissioners when it was approved

    On the other hand, a more dignified down to earth lawyer was prevailed upon by her family to withdraw so that she can keep her unblemished record as white as it is.

    Amazing. One thing is clear. There are still people around who has conscience. Her withdrawal is in fact a reminder of delicadeza not only to Grace Padaca and Lanto but more importantly, the Stupidbrat who will do anything to perpetuate himself and his KKKs in power.

  • farmerpo

    If Lanto applied for and got the job without a padrino, he would be more credible.  ‘A long time friend who knew of his untainted record’ as a reason for being a commissioner smells. Daang Matuwid was bent in a way. Drilon unwittingly raised the hands/endorsed a candidate for municipal councilor who a week later was arrested as suspected mastermind of a KFR gang. I am sure he did not know the guy from Adam, but raised the guy’s hand ‘for politics’ sake anyway.
    Our culture of politicians having zillions of ina-anak for votes sake. Chow.

  • boyod

    paano na kung wala si Lanto, hindi na matuloy ang 12-0. Another BEDOL and GARCILLANO in the making. Mabuhay ka DRILON ipagpatuloy mo 

  • elgeepee

    Sana Mr. President huwag na kayong magappoint ng mga taong questionable ang characters at background. That is the only way to prove your sincerity to lead us to a clean government. PLEASE! 

  • Albert Einstien

    PITIFUL makapili govt…GOOD PEOPLE NO LONGER WANT to serve under an incompetent leadership who choose a foreign enemy over its own citizens & country’s territory…

    now only those with CHECKERED RECORDS want to serve under pnoy leadership…tsk tsk

    • shane oy

      i wonder how competent you are.

  • speaksoftlylove

    Nakonsyensa lang si Sardillo, nangangamoy bilasa na daw kasi ang Comelec. Tatlo na kasi ang pamato ni PNoy sa Comelec. Si brilliant boy fixer with hocus PCOS talisman, si warrant of arrest padaca, at si cheat lanto. Kung sasali pa si Sardillo baka magiging Sardinas na ang amoy ng Comelec.

  • gmaisthebestpresident

    pasensiya na lang kayong mga Comelec employees at mas malakas sa inyo si Drilon.

  • isidro c. valencia

    Si Drilon naman ay double face at doble baba pa.
    Dati bata siya ni Marcos. Naging gabinete ni Cory. Malapit kay Ramos. Kasama ni Erap.
    Pabalebalentong din siya. 
    He will be known as “Rolling Drilon who gathers more moss.” 


      At least Drilon changed for the better. He did not stay with the corrupt. He have no record of corruption. The others stayed with the corrupt and continue to be corrupt.

      • isidro c. valencia

        Really? Talaga?

      • regoberto

        magaling lang siguro magtago kaya walang record LOL

      • BrAX82

        Government ng Puro Atleast. Kaya mahirap ka parin Juan Dela Cruz, sa kaka atleast mo.

      • kismaytami

        Right, he changes his face for his betterment every freaking time.

      • joshua

         excuse me ung iLoilo airport may bahid po ng controversy un kaya lang magaling lang talaga bumalimbing si Baboy Drilon kaya di sya nakakasuhan dahil magaling sumipsip kung sino nakaupo

  • carlcid

    Wow! Ibang klase itong si Sardillo! Pambihira ang ganung klaseng appointee. She should be commended, perhaps appointed to a higher position.

    • shane oy

      lol how could this be she is not joining… anong mangyayari kung lahat ng iniappoint ay tumanggi palakpakan ba lahat ng critiko despite the fact na maaapektuhan ang serbisyo ng comelec (in this case).

    • Jack

      ayaw niya siguro mahawa sa mga mahihinang kukute sa palasyo. ang lakas daw nilang makahawa sa kabo bohan

  • josefe38



    • Rex

      No proof po na nandaya siya. He was a beneficiary, not the perpretator, nakasulat po sa HRET case. 

      The perpretator siguro sa pagkakaintindi ko e ung mga powerful political clans na kalaban niya nung tumakbo sya. Napahiya sila dahil natalo sila ng isang baguhan, and lo and behold their plan was a success. A man of courage and integrity indeed, kung lumaban pa sa mga powerful political clans na ito, tapos humbly umalis at pinaupo ang nanalo. 

      Lanto was also offerred higher positions in the government before, tinanggihan din niya. 

      • Jack

         ok na sana siya, pero ng lumabas sa balita na si drilon ang may pakana sa pagkapuwesto niya, ito ang tanong ng taongbayan “Bakit tinanggap niya ang posisyon na ito?”

  • mekeni62

    malinis pa siguro ang budhi nitong si Sardillo. ayaw lang madungisan.

  • Rovingmoron

    Low pay na nga, marami ka pang batikos na aabutin sa madlang people kung magkamali ka ng kunti. I think she made the right decision. One of a kind din tong lawyer na to.

  • Marites

    In the Philippines   no  politician is ever convicted of any crime…  They are all victims of political harassment

    • popeyee

      In the Philippines, no politicians ever lost to an election..pagnatalo, sasabihin dinaya..

  • LucasPacascas

    Mabuti pa si Atty. Bernadette Sardillo may delicadeza. Si Makabangkit Lanto, nangangatwiran pa, samantalang he was unseated in Congress because nandaya siya noong 1992 elections. Tsk,tsk,tsk!

    • Rex

      No proof po na nandaya siya. He was a beneficiary, not the perpretator, nakasulat po sa HRET case. 

      The perpretator siguro sa pagkakaintindi ko e ung mga powerful political clans na kalaban niya nung tumakbo sya. Napahiya sila dahil natalo sila ng isang baguhan, and lo and behold their plan was a success. A man of courage and integrity indeed, kung lumaban pa sa mga powerful political clans na ito, tapos humbly umalis at pinaupo ang nanalo

      • joshua

         nye e di ganun din pala si Zubiri sinasabi ng mga taga team Malaysia na nandaya sya but according to him beneficiary lang sya ng dayaan. Ano ba yan may tinititigan may kinakampihan.. Go Team Malaysia

  • kilabot

    sardillo does not want to be infected with the noykapon bug. 

    in fairness, 
    let’s give lanto a chance, 
    like we gave noykapon, electing him pres knowing he did nothing as cong and sen.

  • Garibaldi_II

    Ms. Sardillo shows Mr. Lanto a gentleman’s way.

    • Rex

      Think critically. An insider says, nagbigay na sya ng letter for withdrawal even before Sardillo’s, di tinanggap ni PNoy 
       becoz wala daw justifiable reason. I dont know why this is not in the news.

      • Garibaldi_II

        Think critically? A shadow can not exist without the body. Did you think critically? “I don’t know why this is not in the news.” You’re contradicting yourself.

      • Rex

        Nah. Not in the news kasi his pag-decline ay nireview pa, dahil yaw nga tanggapin ni PNoy nung umpisa. Monday na at nasa news na sya. 

        I learned na he was to fight the HRET back in 94 when the case came up, but he didnt have the money for a counter-case at nakakatakot nga naman ang mga political clans nung araw. Sino ba sya na isang baguhan para ilaban pa

      • Garibaldi_II

        Thanks. You’re a gentleman. I relied on PDI and MT. And, I don’t have much time reading the news. You’re right; he has more to pain than to gain. Keep it up.

  • speedstream2

    If I may, a no-nonsense, IT-savvy lawyer, with extensive experience in the intricacies of elections, including applicable laws and with very little personal and political skeletons in the closet, could be a good candidate for the post. Surely there must be one out there who’s up to the job. Or maybe not.

  • BrAX82

    I want to see how the Tards would try to justify the appointment of Lanto. Actually may nakita nako and it started with “at least”. Haha comedy talaga ung mga zombie.

  • Rex

    Ang totoo si Sardillo won a case against fellow commissioner Padaca’s graft and ‘poll fraud’ case too. Her lawyer was De Lima. So, don’t you think Padaca wont attest to Sardillo’s appointment? De Lima too, for the record. 

    DE LIMA AND PADACA vs. SARDILLO, who do you think is more important to PNoy? 

    I admire Sardillo’s decision to withdraw pero alam na ‘to ng ibang tao, pero bakit ung issue lang ni Mac Lanto ang binabalita? Padaca had a poll fraud case too. 

    Marami akong naririnig na magagandang bagay tungkol kay Mac Lanto. Baguhan siya noon, kaya nagalit ang mga powerful clans dahil natalo sila ng isang baguhan. E kung baguhan siya, wala siguro syang mga connections noon, papano sya nagcheat?

  • Mang Teban

    Siguro po ang nararapat na ilagay sa COMELEC ng pangulo ay mga taga-COMELEC na mismo. Marami naman na pagpipilian na mga responsable at may alam sa pasikot-sikot sa COMELEC para hindi baguhan at mag-aaral pa ng mga sistema habang ang halalan ay malapit na. Imposible naman na walang mapagpilian sa loob ng COMELEC.
    Wala nang oras para humanap pa sa labas ng COMELEC na tiyak na walang gaanong alam sa sistema ng pagpapalakad ng iba’t ibang kilos na makatutulong sa malinis at malayang halalan.

  • wakats

    Beng Sardillo is one of a kind, and almost extinct, in terms of delikadeza, much unlike lanto who is fighting that he was a beneficiary of an electoral fraud, like zubiri.

    What’s next PNoy? Either you appoint virgilio of the hello garci fame, or none at all….

  • Jack

    Lanto admitted that he had sought Sen. Frank Drilon’s endorsement because the senator, “a long-time friend,” knew of his long, untainted record in government.
    “…long, untainted record in the gov’t”    ano po ang tawag doon sa inyo na “unseated as a congressman in 1994 for electoral fraud” 

  • disqusted0fu

    Declining the appointment is what Lanto should have also done. The Comelec is already haunted by the unresolved problems of the PCOS machines, appointing someone with issues connected to election fraud just doesn’t make it any better. Does Pnoy think before he decides?

  • joshua

    Team Malaysia (AKA team PNOY): Hello Macky….

  • Joey

    i tend to believe that Lanto was really a victime of an influential political clan in his hometown and did not cheat at all in the 1994 elections. i have no proof or evidence of this. nothing really logical to base my opinions on, just gut feeling for now from what i have read.

    in the meantime, sardillo’s decline of her appointment shows two things. that first and foremost, PNoy should also seriously consider career officials in making appointments to higher posts. and secondly, government should really make compensation packages even more competitive (the way the singaporean government does) if it wants to attract and lure the best and the brightest away from the private sector and have them serve the public.

  • boybakal

    Sardillo declines Comelec appointment….

    Yan ang mga tao, may prinsipyo at dignidad.
    Yon iba katakot takot ang kaso sa Ombudsman, tinanggap ang position as Commissioner.
    Wala ng delicadeza, kapal mukha pa.

  • wawa2172

    Sardillo declining Comelec appointment is laudable. She better be just an election lawyer than be a party of current comelec commissioner whose credibility is in question. Mac Lanto and Padaca was endorsed to the comelec by LP leadership lead by Team PNoy manager Pork Drillon and were appointed by PNoy. This is to ensure the 12-0 win for admin candidate. Matuwid na daan? doubt it..

    • joshua

       excuse me di na po sila Team PNOY ngayon tawagin na po natin silang Team Malaysia

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