President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. named Nelson Celis as the new commissioner of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), the agency announced on Monday (August 15), replacing Aimee Torrefranca-Neri who was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments.
Celis is a computer engineer and spokesperson of the Automated Election System (AES) Watch. In April, he criticized the election body for failing to release documented results mandated by the automated elections law that ensures functionality of the AES.
He was also an information technology fellow for the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG). Last April, he criticized the poll agency due to its “no compliance with the law” and “questionable” random manual audit and source code review process.
Celis also wrote several columns in The Manila Times about election transparency.
"We sincerely believe that his expertise and long experience in information technology will immensely benefit the COMELEC and further enhance the automation of our electoral processes," COMELEC spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco said.
His term ends on February 2, 2029.
A report launched by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) in June assessed the May 9 Philippine elections as one that is “not free, honest, or fair by international standards.”
Information was gathered through an International Observer Mission (IOM), which consisted of 60 individuals from 11 countries and various sectors.
According to the Coalition, voters were “robbed of access to reliable information, access to voting places without intimidation, and a credible vote-counting system.”
“The observers reported that the May elections showed a higher level of failure of the electronic voting system than ever before, along with a higher level of blatant vote-buying, a disturbing level of red-tagging of candidates and parties, as well as a number of incidents of deadly violence,” IOM observer Australian Senator Lee Rhiannon said.
Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.
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