President Benigno Aquino 3rd should now appoint Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioners to ensure that the poll body will be ready to conduct the presidential elections in May 2016.
Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano 3rd made the call on Friday in the wake of a Supreme Court Temporary Restraining Order that stopped the P250 million Comelec contract with Smartmatic for the refurbishment of 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan machines to be used in the 2016 polls.
“It’s about time that the President appoints a full time chairman and fill up the seats vacated by two commissioners to accelerate all the necessary plans and ensure the smooth and orderly conduct of elections in May next year,” Albano said, referring to the void left by retired commissioners Sixto Brillantes, Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph.
In Malacañang, Aquino on Friday said he is scouting for a new Comelec chairman.
Speaking to reporters, Aquino said he has interviewed someone, but when he offered the position, the person was “hesitant.”
“I actually interviewed one I did offer the position to, and that person, I cannot name that person, said, ‘It seems I’m not cut out for that,’” the President said.
Aquino said he wanted a Comelec chief who is energetic and enthusiastic about the position, given the forthcoming 2016 national and local elections.
“There is another candidate who indicated strong interest and who has the credentials and the track record [for the post]. Hopefully, I will be able to interview [this person]next week,” he said, without mentioning names.
The President said he already has candidates for the two commissioner posts.
“Now, after the chair is done, the other commissioner, I think we already have a candidate for that. So the chair is my focus at this time,” he said.
Aquino’s sister actress-TV host Kris Aquino earlier disclosed that Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Chairman Winston Ginez will be transferred to the Comelec.
Albano justified his urgent call for the President: “It is imperative that we have a fully manned Comelec now. The Comelec could not properly prepare and implement plans and programs for the elections under an interim or caretaker leadership and an undermanned commission.”
“With the automated election program mired in legal controversy, a fully manned and functioning poll body is better equipped to look into alternative plans,” Albano added.
Albano earlier urged the poll body to consider implementing a hybrid elections system, called the Transparent and Credible Election System or TCREST, wherein votes are counted manually at the precinct level while the election returns are tabulated electronically.
“In this way, we will be ensuring transparency,” Albano added.
Meanwhile, Aquino said the Civil Service Commission (CSC) chairman vacancy is “more or less also done.”
“There will just be other vacancies that will need to be filled up, so as not to affect the needs of that department,” he said.
The President did not name names, but sources said Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. is being eyed to take the CSC top post.