Lanto Declines Comelec Post

MANILA, Philippines --- Newly appointed commissioner of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) former Ambassador and Lanao del Norte Rep. Macabangkit Lanto announced yesterday that he is declining his appointment.

Lanto, in a statement, cited the controversies that hounded him ever since he was appointed to the commission as the main reason for his withdrawal.

"With deep regret, I respectfully decline my appointment as a member of the Comelec," he said in a letter addressed to President Benigno S. Aquino III dated March 9, which was set to be delivered to Malacanang yesterday.

"After a thorough consultation with my family, I have arrived at this decision, owing in large part to the controversy that surrounded my appointment." added Lanto.

Lanto became the second Comelec appointee to withdraw. Last week, election lawyer Maria Bernadette Sardillo likewise declined her position as Comelec commissioner, saying that her family talked her into staying in the private sector.

The appointments of Lanto and Sardillo would have completed the vacancies at the Comelec left by Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco, who both retired last month.

Lanto said the media attention on his electoral protest case that led the House of Representative Electoral Tribunal (HRET) to unseat him as a representative from Lanao del Norte 20 years ago has raised questions on the propriety of him serving as a member of the poll body.

"The past few days have been difficult for me and my family," Lanto said.

"The incessant media focus on my House of Representative Electoral Tribunal (HRET) case 20 years ago has unfortunately overshadowed my public service record and as a result, I will find it extremely difficult to pursue my advocacy for electoral reforms in the Comelec," he added.

Lanto reiterated that he did not commit electoral fraud contrary to the findings of HRET in 1992 and that he was a victim, not the perpetrator of electoral fraud, in the said case.

"Rest assured that my interest to pursue reforms in our electoral process, will, however, remain, in my personal capacity," he assured the President.

Lanto, a former ambassador, justice and tourism undersecretary was appointed as poll commissioner last Thursday, March 7, together with Sardillo.

Lanto's decision surprised Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes. "I was surprised because I thought all along that he is going to fight for it and clear his name," he said in an interview.
He said the HRET case should have died down already since it happened two decades ago.

With regard to the 2007 poll offense case, a copy of the Law Department's recommendation to the Comelec en banc revealed that Lanto's case on alleged coercion is being dismissed.

"Complainants failed to sufficiently establish (Lanto's) presence more so his participation in the incident... The complaint against respondent Macabangkit Lanto is hereby dismissed for lack of probable cause," said the 10-page recommendation dated January 12, 2008.
Brillantes, meantime, expressed hope that Aquino will not take long in finding new appointees.

"I just hope the President will appoint the two new ones immediately... Hopefully, within another 10 days," he said.

For its part, the Comelec - Employees' Union (EU) pushed anew their two nominees for the post, namely Comelec - Planning Department head Atty. Ferdinand Rafanan and Santiago City, Isabela election officer (EO) Atty. Alexander Pilotin.

"With the elections only two months away, it is imperative that the President name insiders to the Commissioner posts," said Comelec-EU President Mac Ramirez in a statement.
Malacanang said yesterday the withdrawal of Lanto from his position as Comelec commissioner shows his "personal delicadeza."

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the replacement for Lanto will be announced "at the proper time."

"The highest consideration for the country is to restore confidence in the electoral system," Valte said. "Mr. Lanto's decision to withdraw as commissioner of the Comelec is a demonstration of personal delicadeza and gives the President an opportunity to make a new appointment to the position," she added. (With a report from Madel Sabater - Namit)


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • McCain seeks defence funding to help Asia against China challenges
    McCain seeks defence funding to help Asia against China challenges

    By David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A leading U.S. senator has proposed that the United States provide hundreds of millions of dollars to help train and equip the armed forces of Southeast Asian countries faced with Chinese territorial challenges. Republican Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the proposal in an amendment to the 2016 U.S. Defense Authorization Act expected to be passed later this year, entitled the South China Sea Initiative. It …

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

  • Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe
    Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe

    President Aquino is expected to raise the West Philippine Sea dispute during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week. Aquino will leave for Tokyo on June 2 for a state visit until June 5. The President’s visit would boost relations between the two countries on all aspects including defense and security, according to Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Minda Cruz. …

  • CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike
    CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike

    The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) appears to have released erroneous data on the allowed tuition and other fee increases in Metro Manila for the incoming academic year. On the list of the 51 approved higher education institutions (HEI) allowed to impose hikes, CHED pegged the average increase in tuition at P32.34 per unit and the average increase in other fees at P34.79. However, a Philippine STAR re-computation showed that the actual average approved tuition increases in Metro …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options