MANILA, Philippines – Second time’s the charm for Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Garcia and Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairman Karlo Nograles, who both got the nod of the Commission on Appointments (CA) three months after they were bypassed.
Lawmakers on Wednesday morning, September 7, warmly received the two constitutional body chiefs, who laid out their plans for their respective agencies, while answering questions on their positions on certain issues. Their confirmation was made final in the plenary in the afternoon.
In June, the CA did not act on the confirmation bids of Nograles, as well as then-Comelec commissioner Garcia, as lawmakers wanted to give then-incoming president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. the opportunity to make his own picks. After Marcos assumed office, he brought back the two bypassed officials.
‘Greater transparency’ in Comelec
In his speech, Garcia touted the high election turnout, as well as the speedy canvassing of results and proclamation of winners, back in May.
He also committed to either accommodate or push for electoral and institutional reforms, such as retiring aging vote-counting machines, making online trolling an election offense, shifting to a hybrid system of elections, and constructing a new Comelec building for employees.
“There were setbacks, but the experience and the learnings we acquired from the 2022 elections are incomparable. We will definitely use that under your present leadership for the purpose of ensuring the 2025 elections and the elections after that will be, if not co-equal to the 2022 elections, we will be able to surpass the same,” he said.
“We would like to ensure greater transparency in all the operations of the commission, greater engagement with our citizenry, with all the stakeholders of elections,” Garcia added.
Garcia expressed openness to Senator Francis Tolentino’s suggestion to add another line in the certificate of candidacy, which would ask candidates to declare that they will “not support any organization that advocates violence to achieve its goals or overthrow the Republic of the Philippines.”
There was one opposition filed against Garcia’s confirmation over an ownership dispute involving his P53-million penthouse condominium unit in Makati. The CA panel had noted that the case had been settled in favor of Garcia in the courts, and it would not allow the petitioner to use the CA for forum shopping.
Garcia is the most high-profile election lawyer to lead the Comelec since Sixto Brillantes Jr. in 2011.
He had counseled several high-ranking politicians, including President Marcos in the latter’s electoral protest following a failed 2016 vice presidential bid.
Development of CSC’s digital transformation roadmap
Nograles, meanwhile, also got glowing words of praise from the panel, who commended his work ethic and ability to work across party lines.
In his speech, Nograles vowed to push for digitization of services to make the CSC future-ready.
“We will pursue the conduct of our digital maturity assessment and the development of our digital transformation roadmap. We shall transition to electronic personal data sheet utilization and improve and timely update the inventory of government human resource,” Nograles said.
“Our ambition for our civil service exams is to expand the conduct of computerized exams while studying the feasibility of conducting exams online,” he added.
Nograles also said he will appeal to Congress to create a human resource management office in every city and municipality.
A lawyer by profession, Nograles was previously a congressman, a cabinet secretary, and briefly a presidential spokesman of the Duterte administration. He used to co-chair the Philippines’ task force in its COVID-19 response.
Garcia and Nograles’ terms will expire in February 2029, outlasting the Marcos administration. – Rappler.com