Comelec execs must be trustworthy regardless of origin

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Sunday allayed concerns aired by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon that there is an “uneven” representation in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as five of six commissioners are from Mindanao.

Drilon earlier questioned why Luzon, the most populated among the country’s three main islands, has no representation while Visayas only has one — Ma. Rowena Amelia Guanzon, who is from Negros Occidental.

The seventh post is still vacant.

In his online commentary show “Counterpoint”, Panelo explained that commissioners are appointed to ensure free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections, regardless of what region they came from.

Kahit taga-saan pa ‘yan, ‘pag ikaw ay commissioner, sumumpa ka na gagawin mo ang tungkulin mo bilang commissioner ng Comelec (Wherever they came from, if you’re a commissioner, you took an oath to carry out your duty as Comelec commissioner),” he said.

Panelo noted that the Constitution does not require an even representation.

‘Yung hinihingi mong even representation, ni hindi nga ‘yan hinihingi ng Saliganng Batas. Kasi nga ang hinihingi ng Saligang Batas, kailangan maging malaya ang halalan, kailangan ‘yan ay maging matapat, at kailangan ‘yan ay maayos (The Constitution doesn’t even require the representation you’re asking for. Because the Constitution states that the elections should be free, honest, and orderly),” he said, dismissing Drilon’s concerns as “nonsense”.

Citing the 2016 national elections, Panelo noted that President Rodrigo Duterte won “by a landslide” despite commissioners being appointees of his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III.

‘Yung nakaraang halalan, sino ba ang mga commissioner dun? ‘Di ba puro mga leftovers ng Aquino administration? O pero naging matapat sila. Kaya landslide si Presidente Duterte (During the last elections, who were the commissioners? Weren’t they all leftovers of the Aquino administration? But they were honest. That’s why President Duterte won by a landslide),” he said.

Instead of sowing intrigues, he urged Drilon to encourage the youth to register for the May 2022 national and local polls.

Manawagan ka nalang na yung mga batang botante magrehistro na kayo at sabihin kayo ay magrehistro at mag-aral kayo kung sino ang magiging presidente natin dahil marami tayong problema ng sambayanan (Just encourage young voters to register and tell them to analyze who could be the next president because there are a lot of problems that need to be addressed),” he added.

The nationwide voters’ registration will end on September 30, 2021. Comelec offices nationwide are open Tuesdays to Saturdays. (PNA)

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