MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino can still appoint new election commissioners between now and election day without running afoul of the election ban on appointments.
Malacañang has informed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that the appointments of two new commissioners were not covered by the ban, Undersecretary Abigail Valte said yesterday.
The Comelec concurred with Malacañang’s position, the deputy presidential spokesperson said.
“The Comelec does concur with the position of the OP (Office of the President) that it is not covered by the March 29 appointments ban due to the urgency and brought upon by the upcoming elections in May,” Valte said in a briefing.
The President has yet to appoint the new commissioners more than a month before the May 13 elections.
In early March, the President announced the appointments of Macabangkit Lanto and Bernadette Sardillo as replacements for retired Comelec commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco.
Lanto’s appointment was greeted with criticism over his possible role in electoral fraud. Sardillo declined her appointment for personal reasons.
The Comelec found an existing case against Lanto for alleged coercion of the Board of Election Inspectors in Lanao del Sur, an election offense that is penalized by up to six years in jail and disqualification from holding public office and from exercising the right to vote.
Malacañang then said it was reviewing Lanto’s appointment after belatedly learning that the former congressman of Lanao del Norte’s second district was removed from his congressional seat in 1994 for electoral fraud.