MANILA — The public must be vigilant and even participate in the selection of 4 Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioners by February 2022, or months before the country holds its national elections, civil society leaders said Monday.
"There should be a public vetting of the appointment of 4 new commissioners by February 2022, which can be a game-changer in the conduct of elections," former Comelec chair and 1987 Constitution framer Christian Monsod said during a Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) virtual event.
Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas, commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Antonio Kho Jr. will end their terms oi February 2022, or 3 months away from the elections that will elect President Rodrigo Duterte's successor.
There is also one vacancy that has yet to be filled up following Michael Peloton's failure to secure the Commission on Appointments' nod.
By February 2022, Comelec will be left with commissioners Soccoro Inting, Marlon Casquejo, and Aimee Ferolino, all Duterte appointees, and all from Davao City.
According to Ateneo School of Government dean Ronald Mendoza, "we do need to encourage impendent appointments at Comelec."
He also cautioned against the repercussions of appointing officials "coming from a particular city in the South," referring to Davao City, Duterte's hometown.
"If those appointments actually fall short and again are coming from a particular city in the South, this will not going to be healthy for our democracy and can increase risks in terms of the credibility of the outcome of the May 2022 polls," Mendoza noted.
Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) chairperson Myla Villanueva urged large organizations, including MAP, to start airing concerns to Comelec regarding the issue.
"Large organizations should start writing [to Comelec] to show concerns. It is a concern especially... the Comelec chair is the most powerful person in the land on election day... We don't want any puppet as Comelec chair," she said.
Election watchdog Kontra Daya has expressed concerns on how the composition of Comelec in 2022 would affect the credibility of the elections.
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