MANILA, Philippines – A group of 5,000 rank-and-file employees of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) called on the Commission on Appointments (CA) to confirm the ad interim appointment of their chairman, Saidamen Pangarungan.
In a statement, the Comelec Employees’ Union said poll body personnel saw Pangarungan’s capability to “effectively rally the troops” and inspire them to work together in achieving a secure, accurate, free, and fair elections.
“The successful conduct of the 2022 national and local elections – one that was held under the unprecedented backdrop of a nationwide pandemic – is testament to Chairman Pangarungan’s capable leadership, as he bravely took on the reins and helmed meritoriously, one of the most challenging electoral exercises in our nation’s collective memory,” said union president Mac Ramirez.
“We also see hope and take comfort in Chairman Pangarungan’s vow to strengthen Comelec by prioritizing the needs of the employees and by working to provide them with every opportunity for growth,” the union added.
Pangarungan, who was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte only in March, entered the poll body promising employees that under his watch, the commission will “maximize the benefits that come with working for the Comelec.”
Pangarungan and commissioners George Garcia and Aimee Neri need to be confirmed by the CA before Congress adjourns on June 3, or they risk being bypassed.
The CA was supposed to hold its first confirmation hearing for the three ad interim appointees on Wednesday, May 25, but postponed it to next week, as other CA members were performing their canvassing duties in the House of Representatives.
Rappler learned that multiple groups have written to the CA, expressing their “vehement objection” to the confirmation bid of Pangarungan, due to his alleged role in the non-proclamation of the congressional race winner in Zamboanga’s 1st District.
Pangarungan’s critics claimed that his verbal order to the provincial canvassing board – made via phone call – to stop the proclamation of Roberto “Pinpin” Uy Jr. on May 11 was “very irregular,” “questionable,” and did not undergo due process.
Pangarungan, however, told Rappler that the suspension was a decision he and his colleagues in the seven-member Comelec en banc agreed upon.
Pangarungan is a seasoned government official. He was appointed interior undersecretary under the Corazon Aquino administration, and National Commission on Muslim Filipinos chief under the Duterte administration. He was also governor of Lanao del Sur in the late 1980s.