The Manila Standard Today
Feb. 19, 2008
Comelec leadership vacuum feared
By Fel V. Maragay
The specter of a prolonged leadership vacuum hangs over the Commission on Elections due to the position taken by newly appointed Chairman Jose Melo that he will desist from assuming the post until he is confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.
Senate President Manuel Villar, ex-officio CA chairman, said yesterday while Melo may have a point taking the stand, it may take a very long period of time before his nomination is taken up and confirmed by the bicameral body.
That means Melo may have to wait for several months before he can officially start performing his duties as head of the seven-member poll body. This is considered “normal” in the CA. In the case of Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, for instance, his nomination is still hanging in the commission more than two and a half years after it was submitted by President Arroyo.
“What if it will take us three years to confirm him? Then that means the Comelec will have no chairman for three years,” Villar said in response to a query from Standard Today.
Villar expressed the view that Melo is not prevented from assuming the Comelec chairmanship even if he is not yet confirmed. In that case, he will serve as acting chairman.
“But he is also right in his stand [not to immediately sit as Comelec chief]. That is a good attitude. However, after a while, he has to decide whether he will resign or not if he does not get confirmed. It cannot be that there still be no Comelec chairman just because he is not yet confirmed,” the Senate president said.
The President last October appointed Moslemen Macarambon as Comelec commissioner replacing Mehol Sadain who compulsorily retired. Since Macarambon is an ad interim appointee, he immediately assumed office and was able to discharge his functions during the Oct. 29 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
Under the Constitution, ad interim or temporary appointment issued when Congress is in recess is valid until the next adjournment of Congress.
Villar also said he was wondering why Malacañang has not yet forwarded Melo’s appointment to the CA up to now despite the fact that it was supposed to take effect Feb. 2.
President Arroyo announced his choice of Melo as successor to resigned Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos Jan. 31.
The 75-year-old Melo, a retired Supreme Court justice, said he does not think that the work of the Comelec will be seriously impaired by postponing his assumption from office.
He believes his decision is consistent with the pertinent provision of the 1987 Constitution (section 1, paragraph 2 of Article IX) which states:
“The Chairman and the Commissioners [of the Comelec] shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the Commission on Appointments for a term of seven years without reappointment.”
Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws, said to enable the CA to act on Melo case as early as possible, it should fast-track its confirmation hearings upon receiving his appointment papers and upon his compliance with all documentary requirements.
While Melo is not yet aboard, Commissioner Romeo Brawner has been designated officer-in-charge of Comelec.
Gordon also expressed disappointment over the President’s failure to fill the two vacancies in the Comelec created by the compulsory retirement of Commissioners Ressureccion Borra and Florentino Tuason on Feb. 2.
Noting that the Comelec is now being manned by only four commissioners—Brawner, Macarambon, Rene Sarmiento and Nicodemo Ferrer, Gordon said this has slowed down the Comelec’s adjudication and disposition of pending election protests filed by losing candidates in the election for local government, barangay and SK officials last Oct. 29.
Being a hulk in the COMELEC must possess majority of credible qualities. And the best thing he or she must have is HONESTY. Now, if the hulk who rules the COMELEC has a questionable background, the end result another phone tapping will happen and big issue will surface in our land. Sana sa election system natin ay mabago na at dapat pangunahan ito ng COMELEC,
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