Comelec on Iqbal nephew: Focus on performance
MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista on Monday, May 11, downplayed speculations that being a nephew of a Muslim rebel group's chief negotiator can directly affect the work of a new Comelec commissioner.
Bautista confirmed that newly appointed Comelec Commissioner Sheriff Abas is a nephew of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.
The Comelec chairman said Abas himself disclosed his relationship with Iqbal, whose real name is reportedly Datucan Abas.
Despite this, Bautista told reporters Monday, "In the end, performance ang dapat nating tutukan eh." (In the end, we should focus on performance.)
Critics say the government wants to use Iqbal's supposed nephew to influence Comelec-related activities involving the MILF. These include a possible plebiscite on the proposed Bangsamoro region initially headed by Iqbal's group.
While speculations about his identity swirled, Abas has not appeared before national media and has skipped a number of Comelec activities.
Abas 'also transitioning'
For one, Abas was absent during the Comelec's flag ceremony at 8 am on Monday, the first time Bautista attended this weekly program.
He also skipped the Comelec's meeting on May 5, the first full day of Bautista and newly appointed Commissioner Rowena Guanzon in the poll body.
Without national media coverage, Abas took his oath in Cotabato on May 4, and visited his office on May 6.
Explaining his Abas' absence, Bautista said the new commissioner is still finishing his work at the Civil Service Commission.
Bautista said that like him, who previously headed the Presidential Commission on Good Government, Abas "is also transitioning."
The Palace announced the appointment of Bautista, Abas, and Guanzon on May 4. This came as the Comelec faces an unprecedented crisis: a Supreme Court ruling that might render 81,000 vote-counting machines useless, sparking fears of a return to manual elections. – Rappler.com