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New poll commissioner vows changes

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:27:00 11/09/2008

Filed Under: Elections, Government

MANILA, Philippines?The newest Commissioner on Elections, Armando Velasco, took his oath of office yesterday, vowing to improve the welfare of election officers nationwide, a promise coming from someone who ?rose through the ranks.?

In an interview at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) headquarters in Intramuros, Manila, Velasco said he had ?mixed feelings? about his new job.

Aware the poll agency has had a negative image the past few years, Velasco said he was both nervous and excited about the challenges he will be facing.

A lawyer and currently the only career Comelec official on the seven-member commission, Velasco said he received news of his appointment on Friday evening from media reports.

He said he did not expect to be named to the commission, adding that he ?rose from the ranks.?

?I was surprised. I was very happy,? he said.

Velasco, 52, began his 17 years in the Comelec as an election officer in Baguio City in 1991. The Pangasinan native was the regional election director of the Comelec?s Cordillera Autonomous Region before being named commissioner.

Velasco said his field experience would be an asset to the commission. ?I want to share my experiences in the field, I can apply them for implementation,? he said.

Velasco said he also wanted to improve the facilities in Comelec offices. ?They?re dilapidated, they?re an eyesore,? he said.

He said he wanted to focus on ?human resource development? and help in the modernization of the commission.

Velasco said he supported automating the 2010 elections. He said he supervised the computerized polls in Sulu in August and the results ?were quite good.?

?Maybe there should be small refinements like ensuring that voters only vote once,? he said.

Velasco is taking over from Moslemen Macarambon, who was not reappointed by President Macapagal-Arroyo. Two other commissioners, Lucenito Tagle and Leonardo Leonida, were reappointed.



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