COMELEC appointees should be non-party leaders and luminaries from civil society, academe and church, according to KABAYAN Party-list Representative and House Assistant Majority Leader Ron Salo. He tells his reasons in the following the statement.
While most COMELEC Chairpersons and Commissioners have been, in truth, of unquestionable integrity, allegations of partisanship have not eluded them. Without exception, they have always been associated with the appointing authority.
True or not, they have been perceived as favoring the party of the administration that appointed them. This perception is unhealthy in a democratic process as the integrity of elections is doubted. The pending protest in the last VP elections is a case in point where the winner belongs to the past administration which appointed most of the sitting members of the COMELEC.
It would be ideal then if the search committee for COMELEC appointees shall include non-party leaders and luminaries from civil society, the academe, and the church, who are known for their integrity, impartiality and nationalism.
Forming such a search committee is within the scope of presidential powers. A simple administrative order can cause the formation of the search committee. The committee can conduct the search process in public and then submit its shortlist of recommendees to President Duterte.
It will also be ideal if the President can already create such a committee to commence the search now for the replacement of Chairman Bautista who undertook to resign by yearend. In fact, his departure from COMELEC may even come sooner with his impeachment case to already commence soon in the Senate.
The committee also needs to find the replacement of the two Commissioners – Commissioner Arthur Lim and Commissioner Robert Lim – whose terms end on February 2, 2018.
It is essential that the new appointees will be perceived as non-partisan and of unquestionable integrity to uphold the integrity of electoral process.
The timely appointments of the replacements will allow COMELEC to completely focus on its work on preparing for the barangay and SK elections in May 2018.
This is addition to urgent need for COMELEC to finish cleaning the list of voters, securing the voters’ database against hackers, and preventing any identity theft emanating from the past database hack.
A more inclusive search process could also improve the appointees’ chances of getting confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.