Comelec employees want next commissioners to come from their ranks

Employees of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) are urging President Benigno Aquino III to pick the next two commissioners from their ranks so that their rights and well-being will be championed. “We have earlier manifested our desire for the President to appoint commissioners from the ranks. Those that will work for the best interest of the rank and file,” said Mac Ramirez, Comelec-EU national president, in a media advisory Monday. The 6,000-strong Comelec Employees’ Union is set to name their bet Tuesday at a press conference. The two commissioners will replace Commissioners Armando Velasco and Rene Sarmiento, who both retired last February 2. Of the two, it was Velasco who rose from the ranks, starting as an election officer in Baguio City in 1991. He was the poll director in the Cordillera Administrative Region prior to his appointment as commissioner in November 2008 to fill in the unfinished term of Commissioner Moslemen Macarambon. Sarmiento, on the other hand, was a human rights lawyer. He worked for the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process before being appointed to the Comelec in 2006 by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He replaced former Commissioner Rufino Javier. Sarmiento earlier said he has been hearing the names of former Lanao del Norte Macabangkit Lanto; Legal Network for Truthful Elections executive director lawyer Louie Guia; lawyer Angelina Santiago, daughter of a former justice; Comelec law department director lawyer Esperanza Ladra; Comelec planning department director lawyer Ferdinand Rafanan; and acting deputy director for administration lawyer Adolfo Ibanez as possible replacements. Aquino has appointed three election executives since assuming office in 2010: Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. and Commissioners Grace Padaca and Christian Robert Lim. Both Brillantes and Lim were election lawyers of Aquino. A former Isabela governor, Padaca is a close ally of the president. — Amita O. Legaspi/KBK, GMA News

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