SEN. Nancy Binay on Thursday appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to fill up the vacancies in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ensure smooth preparations for the May 14 barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) polls.
Comelec chairman Andres Bautista resigned last year amid the threat of the House of Representatives to impeach him over allegations of having unexplained wealth.
Commissioners Christian Robert Lim and Arthur Lim ended their stint with the commission on February 2, leaving the poll body with only four active members: Commissioners Sheriff Abas, Rowena Guanzon, Luie Tito Guia, and Al Parreño.
Binay raised the need to appoint three more commissioners amid the impending joint congressional investigation on the revelation of Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd that irregularities marred the 2016 national elections.
“Technically, the Comelec needs three more commissioners since Commissioner Abas is the chairman. We’re having difficulties during (previous public) hearings (on the automated election system) because of the lack of commissioners to answer our queries,” Binay said in Filipino during a media forum.
“The village and SK polls have been postponed several times. And a lot of people have expressed their apprehensions through our office that the elections would be postponed again due to the lack of Comelec commissioners,” she added.
“Kaya naman po nananawagan kami sa Malacañang na punan ang tatlong bakanteng posisyon sa Comelec para masiguro na handa tayo sa darating na barangay elections (That’s why, we’re appealing to Malacanang to fill up the vacant positions in the Comelec to ensure our readiness in the coming barangay elections),” Binay said.
Abas was appointed Comelec chairman in November 2017 to replace Bautista.
The President re-appointed Abas on January 16 after the Commission on Appointments (CA) failed to act on his nomination last year.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian earlier said the bicameral CA must first approve Abas’ nomination before he can assume office as Comelec chief.
“It is only through a complete and functioning election body that the rigorous demands of its preparations can be eased,” the senator said.
“Therefore, I believe the speedy appointment of new Comelec commissioners is critically needed here. With this, the President needs to appoint three new Commissioners to complete the seven-man election body,” he said.