President Rodrigo Duterte should fill the two remaining vacant posts for commissioners at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) with persons with information technology (IT) or project management backgrounds.
This was the suggestion of election watchdog National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) on Thursday as the Comelec was set to kick off its preparations for the 2019 midterm elections.
“Experience with these skill sets could greatly improve the execution of projects / components related to the automated election system (AES) and the conduct of elections,” Namfrel president Eric Alvia said in an interview.
He added that the next appointees to the Comelec do not need to be lawyers.
Likewise, Alvia said the President should immediately fill up the two vacant posts for commissioners following the confirmation of Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas.
“It should be filled up already, especially with preparations for 2019 midterm elections and a possible plebiscite,” the election watchdog chief said.
Abas was confirmed as Comelec chairman by the powerful Commission on Appointments on Thursday, six months after he was appointed by Duterte to the poll body.
With the rise of Abas to the chairmanship, the Comelec was left with two vacancies for commissioners.
Currently, the seven-member Comelec is composed of chairman Abas and commissioners Luie Guia, Al Parreño, Rowena Guanzon, and Socorro Inting.
Push for ‘necessary electoral reforms’
Meanwhile, Namfrel urged Abas to push for “necessary electoral reforms” at the poll body now that he was chairman.
“Namfrel wishes Chairman Abas well as he spearheads the Comelec in addressing the challenges of holding free and orderly elections in the country, and in continuously pushing for necessary electoral reforms,” the group said in a separate statement.
Noting that they had worked “closely” with Abas during the 2018 village and youth polls, Namfrel said it was “confident” with the newly-confirmed Comelec chair’s leadership style.
“We witnessed Chairman Abas working closely with election stakeholders during the May 14 BSKE elections. Namfrel is confident that his collaborative style of leadership is good for Comelec and for its mandate,” it said. /muf