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Poll watchdog says it needs new blood

Church-backed group hands Aquino nominees for new chairman

The Commission on Elections headquarters The Commission on Elections headquarters
  • ucanews.com reporters, Manila
  • Philippines
  • January 12, 2011
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A Catholic Church-backed group has submitted to President Benigno Aquino III an initial list of prospective replacements for Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose Melo and two commissioners who are retiring soon.

Comelec named election lawyer and human rights advocate Carlos Medina and lawyer Antonio Pastelero as possible replacements for Melo, according to an article posted yesterday on CBCP News.

The Church-backed committee includes Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, former Comelec chairman Christian Monsod of the Bishops-Businessmen Conference; and National Citizens Movement for Free Elections head Jose Cuisia Jr.

It also recommended Ma. Caridad Manarang, Baltazar Endriga and Edna Estifania Co as prospective replacements for retiring commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer and Gregorio Larrazabal.

Bishop Pabillo said the next Comelec chairman should not be from the judiciary and knows something about technology.

“Medina is a known personality because of Lente (Legal Network for Truthful Elections). He is an upright person, he knows election laws and he is also a lawyer… he knows something about technology,” said Pabillo.

“Supreme Court (SC) justices are already old. They no longer have energy,” he told reporters. “We need new blood who knows something about technology because of the automation of the elections.”

The chairman of CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action Justice & Peace (NASSA-JP) said while he believes in the uprightness of Melo, he is somewhat disappointed with the latter’s competence.

“We believe in his uprightness but when it comes to his competence regarding automation it seems he is not that adept. It’s as if he is just mouthing what Smartmatic is saying,” Pabillo said.

Meanwhile, Comelec employees are pushing for the appointment of an “insider” as replacement for Melo.

“The next chairman should be an insider, who is knowledgeable in the inner workings of the Commission such as the laws, procedures and timetable,” Luallah Pama, president of the Alliance of Comelec Employees in Service (ACES), said.

Although Pama refused to name any particular “insider”, she said the person must possess integrity, knowledge, credibility, independence and pro-worker credentials.

“They must be God-fearing, have an impeccable character, and the heart for the rank-and-file employees of the Comelec,” she said.

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PR12828.1636
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