Duterte names new Comelec chairman, commissioners
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has designated three officials that will fill up the vacated positions in the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar on Tuesday confirmed that Duterte has signed the appointment paper of Saidamin Pangarungan as the ad-interim chairman of the Comelec.
Duterte has also signed the appointment papers of George Erwin Garcia and Aimee Neri as Comelec commissioners.
“The directive of the President is to ensure an honest, peaceful, credible and free elections,” Andanar said in a Palace briefing.
They will fill out the positions vacated by former chairperson Sheriff Abas, and ex-commissioners Antonio Kho and Rowena Guanzon who retired from the Comelec in February.
New Comelec chair Pangarungan served as the secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos and as governor of Lanao del Sur.
New poll exec is Marcos Jr.’s ex-lawyer in VP case
Meanwhile, new Comelec commissioner Garcia was the lawyer who represented Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in his 2016 VP electoral protest. He also represented Senator Grace Poe in her citizenship case before the Supreme Court.
Neri, for her part, was a former undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Andanar refused to comment if Malacañang sees a conflict of interest with Garcia’s appointment since his former client Marcos is currently running for president and is facing disqualification cases, deferring the question to the poll body.
He, however, assured that the appointment went through a thorough vetting process.
“Dumaan ‘yan sa vetting process, dapat respetuhin natin ang prerogative ng Pangulo na pumili. Hindi naman ito basta basta lang pinipili. Napakahabang proseso, may vetting process. It’s not easy to choose, especially sa quasi-independent body like the Comelec,” Andanar said.
(It went through a vetting process, let’s respect the prerogative of the President to choose. They are not just randomly picked. It had gone through a long and rigorous vetting process.)
The new Comelec officials still need to be confirmed by Commission Appointments, which is composed of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
They are ad interim appointees who can immediately assume office now that Congress is on break due to the campaign period.
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