The Philippine Star : No ‘midnight’ appointments at Comelec

23 February 2022

By Helen Flores | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte will select the officials to fill vacancies at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) before the appointment ban, his spokesman said yesterday.

“The President is mindful of the deadline, the legal and lawful deadline for the appointment of important appointees to the Comelec,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said at a press briefing.

The appointment ban will start 45 days before the May 9 elections.

Three positions were vacated by Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas and Commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Antonio Kho Jr., who retired this month.

Nograles on Monday said the candidates are undergoing “a stringent merit-based vetting process.”

Malacañang assured the public that the selection process of the new Comelec officials would be “transparent.”

Under Resolution 10742 approved by the Comelec on Dec. 16 last year, during the period of 45 days before the regular election and 30 days before a special election, only the poll body may grant authority to any head, official or appointing officer of a government office, agency or instrumentality, whether national or local including government-owned or controlled corporations, who appoints or hires any new employee, whether provisional temporary or casual, or creates and fills any new position.

Based on the Comelec’s Resolution 10695, the appointment or hiring of new employees, creation or filling of new positions and giving of salary increases, remuneration or privilege are prohibited from March 25 to May 8.

Campaign posters
Meanwhile, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal asked the Comelec to suspend the regulation on campaign materials posted in private properties until March 25, which is the start of the campaign period for local candidates.

In a four-page letter to the Comelec en banc dated Feb. 21, Macalintal urged the poll body to suspend Resolution No. 10730 in order to have a uniform policy for both national and local candidates.

Macalintal opposed the poll body’s regulations on campaign posters posted by non-candidates in private areas with sizes in excess of what is allowed under Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Elections Act.

He contested the Comelec’s interpretation of Paragraph 26 of Resolution No. 10730 which states that the “commission may, motu propio, immediately order the removal, destruction and/or confiscation of any prohibited propaganda material, or those materials which contain statements or representations that are illegal.”

“Such action is so arbitrary and a clear violation of one’s constitutional right to his property and due process. While the Comelec may have such ‘motu propio’ authority, the same cannot be exercised without giving the party the chance to be heard,” Macalintal said.

PCG ready for polls
The Philippine Coast Guard will mobilize its personnel and assets to ensure an orderly and peaceful elections, PCG officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Eduardo Fabricante said.

Being an agency deputized by the Comelec, Fabricante said district stations and substations of the PCG would conduct election-related activities nationwide.

The PCG will deploy personnel and K9 teams for security augmentation, he said.

The Coast Guard may be called to transport Comelec personnel and voting equipment to far-flung areas and coastal communities, according to Fabricante.

He reminded PCG personnel to refrain from engaging in partisan politics. – Evelyn Macairan