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RELUCTANT MELO. Newly sworn Comelec chairman Jose Melo admits being reluctant to take on the post but said the murder Monday of a senior official of the poll body helped prod him to accept the job. Video taken by INQUIRER.net reporter Erwin Oliva.

MELO ASSUMES OFFICE. In his last official act as acting Comelec chairman, commissioner Romeo Brawner administers the oath to former Supreme Court justice Jose Melo, who took over the helm of the poll body on Monday. As it turned out, Melo read his own oath because, as he later jokingly told the audience of Comelec employees, friends, and media, Brawner has difficulty reading in Filipino. Video taken by INQUIRER.net reporter Erwin Oliva.




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(UPDATE 3) Melo is Comelec chairman

Brawner feels ‘relief’ at stepping down

By Erwin Oliva
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:13:00 03/25/2008

Filed Under: Elections, Government

MANILA, Philippines -- Former Supreme Court justice Jose Melo was sworn in as new chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Tuesday afternoon.

Melo was sworn in by commissioner Romeo Brawner, who had been as acting Comelec chairman.

The former justice admitted he was reluctant to take on the job but decided to do so to fill in the Comelec's lack of a quorum.

During a press conference right after taking his oath, Melo said the Comelec needs to change its tainted image.

"Let's stop being called the raiders of the temple of the votes of the people. Let us be called the re-builders of the temple of the votes of the people," Melo said.

He hopes to uplift the image of the Comelec by being an example himself.

"I will just behave properly" and be open to media, he said when asked by reporters how he intends to become an example.

But he castigated some media reports saying he was the lawyer of resigned Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr.

"You media should make sure your facts are straight," he said.

Melo said the Comelec under his leadership won't re-open investigation of 2005?s "Hello, Garci" scandal, triggered by purported wiretapped phone conversations between former election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in which they allegedly discuss rigging the 2004 elections in her favor.
He said an "independent body" should investigate the case.

Melo arrived shortly at the Comelec office before 2 p.m.

Wearing a white barong, he first went to the office of Brawner for a brief meeting before going to the session hall to meet the rest of the commissioners and their staff.

Brawner admitted feeling relieved at Melo taking over after the former justice was reappointed this week.

"I am happy that our regular commissioner will takeover because that will relieve me of the great responsibility that falls on my shoulders," he said.

"My role is to prepare for the leadership transition between the old and the new. I even fancied the thought that I am sort of a John the Baptist paving the way for the coming not of the messiah but his honorable Justice Melo as our new chairman," Brawner told reporters Tuesday morning.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita announced Melo's reappointment Monday.

Ermita said Melo's ad interim appointment was sent by the Palace Monday morning to the Commission on Appointments.

Ad interim appointments are those made while Congress is not in session.

Congress adjourned session March 12 without tackling Melo's appointment.



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