Abas, Guanzon, Kho bow out of Comelec
MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sheriff Abas and Commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Antonio Kho Jr. officially bowed out of the poll body in solemn retirement rites on Wednesday.
The three Comelec officials, sporting their black and red robes, were honored during a retirement ceremony at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, three months before the national and local elections in May.
During his speech, Abas described the Comelec staff as among the most dedicated public servants in the country.
“Totoong kayo ay isa sa mga pinakamahuhusay at pinaka-dedicated na public servants sa ating bansa. Kaya naman isang karangalan sa akin na makapaglingkod kasama kayo na mga mahal naming empleyado,” Abas told his former subordinates.
(It is true that you are among the most skilled and most dedicated public servants in the country. That is why it is an honor to serve with you, our beloved employees.)
He also thanked his family for supporting him in his stint at the poll body.
“Gusto kong pasalamatan ang aking pamilya, dahil hinayaan nila akong gawin ang mga bagay na ito kahit mapalayo ako sa kanila. Ang pitong taon na ginugol ko para magsilbi sa ating komisyon ay pitong taon ding hindi ko nakasama araw-araw ang aking pamilya. Salamat sa inyong sakripisyo at suporta para sa akin,” said Abas, who hails from Mindanao.
(I would like to thank my family because they have let me do these things even if I had to be away from them. The seven years I spent serving on our commission were also seven years when I did not spend time with my family. Thank you for your sacrifices and support for me.)
“Sa huling pagkakataon bilang inyong chairman, maraming maraming salamat po (For the last time as your chairman, thank you very much). Sheriff Abas is now signing off,” he said as he ended his speech.
President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Abas as Comelec Chairman in 2017. Then 39 years old, he was the youngest and the first Muslim to be appointed at the helm of the Comelec.
Meanwhile, Guanzon, who former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III appointed as Commissioner in 2015, shared that she will retire with a “grateful heart.”
“I retired today at midnight with a grateful heart to have served the Commission of Elections of the country with your unwavering support. I retire with a grateful heart because I know that you have kept me in your prayers whenever there is a difficult time and whenever the Commission is undergoing some crisis,” she said.
“I retire with satisfaction that I have made my parents proud and I have enjoyed all your company even when we have disagreed. And I think that all in all, you will not forget me, not only because of my colorful personality but because of what we have shared together,” the feisty lady commissioner said.
Kho, for his part, calls his stint at the Comelec a rewarding and unforgettable experience. Duterte appointed Kho to the poll body in 2018.
“Despite all the stress and stakes, it has been the most rewarding and enjoyable experience,” he said.
“Thank you for welcoming me into this Commission from the very beginning. Thank you for being patient with me when I did not measure up in understanding how this Commission works. Thank you for inspiring me through your hard work,” he said.
The three commissioners retired amid public unease over the disqualification cases against presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. that the Comelec’s First Division is handling. To recall, Guanzon said she believes that her fellow Commissioner Aimee Ferolino was “acting in a conspiracy” with a senator to delay the resolution of the consolidated cases. Ferolino, the ponente in the case, has since denied this claim.
During the retirement rites, the commissioners did not mention the disqualification cases. Ferolino, in his speech, even thanked the three senior commissioners for their service to the public.
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