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By Mikha Flores, VERA Files

A lawyer who served as a private prosecutor in the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona last year and an election reform advocate who is almost like an insider at the Commission on Elections were named commissioners of the poll body on Thursday.

Lawyers Al Parreño and Luie Tito Guia now complete the seven-member poll body 25 days before the May 13 elections.

Parreño, also known for his expertise in Information Technology, currently sits as board member of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

He had assisted Rep. Neri Colmenares in prosecuting Corona for betrayal of public trust when the then Chief Justice granted a temporary restraining order on the watch list order against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband.

Guia is the acting executive director of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), Comelec’ civil society partner in implementing campaign finance laws in next month’s polls.

Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the two new appointees went through the “correct vetting process” by President Benigno Aquino III

“Nadala na siguro si Presidente dun sa dalawang nagdecline so medyo tumagal pa ng kaunti pero okay na ito (Maybe the President already learned his lesson from the two who previously declined that’s why the process took longer but this is fine with me),” he said, referring to election Lawyer Maria Bernadette Sardillo and Macabangkit Lanto who both declined their nominations in early March.

Practically an insider, Guia served as executive assistant to then Comelec Chair Christian Monsod from 1992-95 and later as consultant to Commissioner Regalado Maambong from 1996-98.

He returned to private practice after his Comelec stint but maintained his electoral reform work with different civil society groups and citizens’ arm National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections.

The Comelec Employees Union welcomed Guia’s appointment, calling him a “staunch advocate for clean, peaceful and truthful elections.”

Parreño was responsible for establishing the legal processing centers of corporate giants Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Ayala Corp. He also authored the book Report on the Philippine Extrajudicial Killings 2001 to 2010.

The Comelec now has five Aquino appointees, led by Brillantes and Commissioners Christian Robert Lim and Grace Padaca.

Guia and Parreño replaced retired Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco. They are to serve until February 2020. Commissioners Elias Yusoph and Lucenito Tagle will retire in February 2015, along with Brillantes who is serving the unexpired term of his predecessor, Chairman Jose Melo. Under the 1987 Constitution, Comelec officials serve a seven-year term.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

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