ORGANIZED groups of officials and employees of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) are against the appointment of a new election chief.
In a letter to President Benigno Aquino 3rd dated April 22, 2015, the Comelec Regional Election Directors Organization (Credo), the Provincial Election Supervisors Association of the Philippines (PESAP), the League of Election Officers of the Nation (LEON) and the Comelec Employees Union expressed apprehension that the appointment of a new chairman who is unfamiliar with the workings of the poll body would not help in the ongoing preparations for next year’s local and national elections.
The top Comelec post was left vacant by the retirement of former Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. in February.
Also waiting to be filled up are the positions vacated by retired Commissioners Lucernito Tagle and Elias Yusoph.
“We are writing to express our deepest concern for the forthcoming May 9, 2016 electoral exercise in view of the recent Supreme Court ruling which practically decelerated our preparations. Needless to say, we are already racing against time as we only have a year and a few days to prepare for the next momentous presidential contest. Our level of preparations will dictate the outcome of our performance during the elections and it would be us, field officials and employees, who will be on the frontline to toil through the ordeals of the electoral process,” the letter said.
The group is referring to a recent Supreme Court ruling that voided the P268.8 million Comelec- Smartmatic “midnight deal” for the diagnostics, repair and refurbishments of 82,000 units of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) counting machines.
“To this end, we appeal to you not to appoint a chairman for the time being, at least, until the conclusion of the 2016 elections. Lest, the appointment of a new chairman, a newcomer who is yet to learn the crux (of the job) and unfamiliar with the ramifications of all the difficulties we are facing now exacerbated by an undersized timetable, could only be disadvantageous,” it added.
It would be best, they stressed, to maintain the status quo for the position of the chairman even as they recommended a Comelec insider to fill up one of the vacant commissioner positions.
Commissioner Christian Robert Lim currently serves as acting chairman of the Commission and Commissioners Al Parreno, Luie Tito Guia and Arthur Lim sit as members of the Board.
They also endorse the appointment as commissioner of lawyer Romeo Fortes, the most senior Comelec regional election director and currently the president of CREDO.
They said Fortes would be a huge asset for the Commission.
The groups’ position, however, runs against the wisdom of the members of the Commission en banc who said that the appointment of a new chairman would be for the interest of the Comelec.
Comelec spokesman Director James Arthur Jimenez earlier said that while the present members of the Commission can handle the job, the appointment of a new chairman and two commissioners would be better.
Commissioner Guia has also said that there was no problem with a new chairman because the present members can easily apprise him or her of what is going on in the Comelec.