As the May 9 elections approach fast, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc now only consists of appointees of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The composition of the Commission is now as follows:
Chairperson Saidamen Pangarungan
Commissioner Rey Bulay
Commissioner Marlon Casquejo
Commissioner Aimee Ferolino
Commissioner George Garcialawyer
Commissioner Socorro Inting
Commissioner Aimee Neri
Among the newest appointees as of March 8 is Pangarungan, who was the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) chair since July 9, 2018 and former governor of Lanao del Sur from 1988 to 1992. Aside from these two key government positions he held, he has no recorded experience of working in the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).
He is Duterte’s schoolmate from San Beda College.
In 2020, Pangarungan along with two other NCMF officials was accused by his colleague, commissioner Abubakar Mangelen, of “unlawful refusal and/or delay to perform their ministerial duties”, according to a report by Abante.
Appointed with Pangarungan today are George Garcia and Aimee Neri as COMELEC commissioners. George Garcia was the lawyer of presidential candidate and dictator’s namesake Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in his electoral protest to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
Meanwhile, Neri was the undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as early as 2018. Prior to this, she was the assistant secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
Neri, along with Casquejo, Ferolino, and Inting all hail from Davao. The only commissioners who do not come from Mindanao are Garcia and Bulay, the latter of which also happens to be a schoolmate of the president from San Beda College.
This is not the first time that an incumbent president’s appointees occupied each position of the COMELEC en banc. Just before the late Noynoy Aquino III ended his term, the en banc consisted of all his appointees.
Last January, poll watchdog Kontra Daya (Against Fraud) expressed concern over the appointment of new COMELEC officials. They mentioned that the new appointees must respect the “quasi-judicial independence of the COMELEC.”
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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