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Duterte names Abas Comelec chief

Sheriff Abas

President Duterte has nominated Sheriff Abas as chair of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), replacing Andres Bautista who resigned amid allegations that he had amassed ill-gotten wealth.

Mr. Duterte also named former Arroyo official Agnes Devanadera, chair of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), after its former head, Jose Vicente Salazar, was dismissed for misconduct in connection with corruption allegations.

Malacañang released copies of Abas’ and Devanadera’s Nov. 22 appointment papers on Friday.

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Should his appointment be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments, Abas, a Comelec commissioner, will serve Bautista’s unused term until Feb. 2, 2022.

He is expected to lead the poll body in overseeing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in May next year, as well as the midterm elections in 2019.

Devanadera, for her part, will serve as ERC chair until July 10, 2022.

Public service

Abas, a law graduate of Ateneo de Davao University, was appointed to the Comelec in April 2015. He served as chief legal officer of the Civil Service Commission in Cotabato.

A nephew of Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, Abas graduated with a philosophy degree in 1999 from Notre Dame University, where he later taught for three years until 2009.

Devanadera served as solicitor general and justice secretary under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and faced a criminal complaint over an anomalous P6.185-billion debt settlement in 2006.

In November last year, the Ombudsman indicted Devanadera for advising the Philippine National Construction Corp. to enter into an allegedly irregular debt settlement with the British creditor Radstock Securities Ltd., with concessions that were “contrary to law” and disadvantageous to the government.

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 Delays

However, in May this year, the Sandiganbayan quashed the criminal complaints against Devanadera, citing “inordinate and unreasonable” delays by the Ombudsman in its investigation. The antigraft court junked the same complaints against Devanadera’s coaccused a month prior to the dismissal of her case.

Devanadera was a government corporate counsel from September 2004 to September 2007, after which she was appointed solicitor general. She became justice secretary in January 2010 but resigned two months later to run for Congress.

The Comelec welcomed Abas’ nomination to head the poll body.

“The nomination of Commissioner Abas to the position of chairperson bodes well for the Comelec as it approaches the eve of the 2019 midterm elections,” said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

Preparations

“With the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections scheduled to be held in May 2018, concurrently with preparations for the 2019 national and local elections, the coming year will be a very busy one for the Comelec,” he added.

The poll body also needs to fill all its seats as two commissioners—Arthur Lim and acting Comelec Chair Christian Robert Lim—are set to retire in February 2018, Jimenez said. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH

Sources: Inquirer Archives, doj.gov.ph

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TAGS: Agnes Devanadera, Andres Bautista, Commission on Elections, Energy Regulatory Commission, Philippine news updates, President Duterte
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