Comelec to Palace: Name commissioners ASAP
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) feels the heat of the 2013 polls – all the more because two of its commissioners will step down in early February, 3 and half months before the midterm elections in May.
Brillantes on Tuesday, January 8, said he wants the Palace to immediately name the replacements of Comelec Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco, who will leave after a non-renewable 7-year term. Sarmiento and Velasco will both retire from the 7-member commission on February 2.
“Wala akong preference ngayon. Hinihingi ko lang kay Presidente, maglagay na siya as early as possible,” Brillantes said in an interview with reporters. (I don't have any preference right now. My only request is for the President to appoint their replacements as soon as possible.)
The retirement of the two commissioners will negatively affect the poll body, he said. “Ang hinahati namin sa pito, hahatiin namin sa lima,” Brillantes explained. (The workload that we usually divide among 7 members, we will have to divide among 5.)
A human rights lawyer and Arroyo peace adviser before joining the Comelec, Sarmiento was appointed in April 2006. Velasco, a Comelec employee since the 1990s, was appointed in November 2008 to serve the 5 remaining years of former Commissioner Moslemen Macarambon's term.
The Palace has not given clues on who will likely replace Sarmiento and Velasco.
Since he assumed office in 2010, President Benigno Aquino III has appointed 3 members to the Comelec – Brillantes and Commissioners Christian Lim and Grace Padaca. With the replacements of Sarmiento and Velasco, majority of the poll body will be Aquino's appointees.
Both Brillantes and Lim once lawyered for Aquino. Padaca, Aquino's latest appointee, used to belong to the President's Liberal Party.
The Constitution lists the following requirements for Comelec members:
- natural-born Filipino citizens;
- at least 35 years old;
- college degree holders;
- must not have been candidates for elective positions in the immediately preceding elections.