Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Friday defended the appointment of lawyer Al A. Parreño as election commissioner after it was suggested that he did not meet a constitutional requirement for the post.
Brillantes said that even if Parreño had practiced only nine years of law, he could still be appointed to the Comelec since the President can appoint up to three “nonlawyer” commissioners.
The Constitution requires that those appointed as lawyers should at least have 10 years of experience in law practice.
“Yes, we checked that. He became a lawyer in 2004 so he has been a lawyer for only nine years… but you can appoint nonlawyers,” Brillantes said in an interview.
“You can appoint three non-lawyers out of the seven (commissioners of the Comelec). The non-lawyer now is Commissioner (Grace) Padaca. So, (the President) can still put two nonlawyers,” he said.
“Parreño does not qualify as a lawyer(-appointee) because you need 10 years of practice,” he added.
But Brillantes said this issue would not affect Parreño’s appointment, adding that the Comelec would welcome him.
“Some might raise (the issue) but that is not an issue for us. We will welcome him. His appointment (papers) is now with us,” he added.
Brillantes said Parreño and lawyer Louie Tito F. Guia, the former director of the election watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente), could take their oath once they are ready.
Guia paid a courtesy call on Brillantes and other commissioners Friday morning.
“That is because when you are appointed here, you need to divest from (the private sector). So, I said he should fix this immediately,” Brillantes said.
Talking with reporters after his courtesy call, Guia said he would pursue financial campaign reforms and structural reforms at the Comelec. He said he expected to take his oath on Monday.
“Well for me, it is a call to duty. We can contribute something,” Guia told reporters when asked if he had wanted the position.
“We’re new and we’re coming in when the elections is already near. Maybe, I’ll just listen to them to find out what is urgently needed. What we need to look at now is the immediate preparations for the elections,” he added.
Guia, who met his wife in the Comelec, said he wanted to implement the reforms he learned in civil society.
“Ideally, I want to bring with me what we do in civil society but I’m also cognizant that of course this is a bureaucracy. I also (worked) here. I know the realities,” Guia said.
He said that when he was still with Lente, they proposed measures to speed up the resolution of election cases pending at the Comelec.
“The idea of (forming) a campaign finance unit came from our group and that was adopted by the Comelec. So, that’s where I come from,” Guia said.
“There are also other aspects of electoral reform. Maybe political party strengthening, which is partly legislative and administrative. But of course, I’m just one of the seven commissioners. So, I will not be the only one who will decide. Maybe I could contribute,” he added.