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MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s most recent nominees to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) secured the nod of the Commission on Appointments (CA) securing a nearly seven-year term in the poll body.
Commissioners Nelson Celis and Ernesto Maceda Jr. separately faced a friendly CA committee on Wednesday morning, December 14, the last day that the powerful body could convene before Congress goes on a holiday break.
Their appointments were confirmed in the afternoon, which means they will serve in the Comelec until February 2029, outlasting the Philippine president who appointed them, as the latter will step down in office in 2028.
Celis is an engineer with a solid IT background and who has a track record of advocating for clean elections; Maceda is a seasoned election lawyer and election law professor who was once vice mayor of Manila.
In his speech, Celis presented himself as a commissioner who does not miss a day of work, and with a determination to be a team player in the short span of time he has been with the Comelec.
Celis has been designated as commissioner in-charge of the Comelec’s national election summit, an event in March 2023 that seeks to convene poll stakeholders to come up with a concrete reform agenda for the commission.
“We have assisted the process owners and core offices of the Comelec in organizing and facilitating more than twenty pre-summit consultation sessions that will lead us to facilitate an election summit proper in 2023, which is consultative and participatory, and which will also contribute recommendations for the envisioned digital transformation of the Comelec and our election system,” Celis said.
Senator Risa Hontiveros asked Celis, who has also been designated head of the commission’s Task Force Fake News, about the poll body’s efforts to combat disinformation.
“We are preparing for 2025 to combat ‘fake news.’ We will put up a system that will be the public’s reference which will be the source of authentic information. If there is disinformation, we will answer to it,” Celis said, adding that a strategy plan has yet to be drafted.
Ernesto Maceda Jr.
Maceda, meanwhile, introduced himself to lawmakers as man who is not allergic to electoral reforms.
Responding to queries from CA members, Maceda said the Comelec would study how the poll body could more efficiently wield out nuisance candidates from list of election aspirants.
He also expressed openness to legislation that would simplify the process of removing deceased Filipinos from voter lists.
“I believe that the law is not perfect. There will be gaps and rules that need revisiting in light of our ever-changing political and socioeconomic environment. As a legal reform advocate, I will work with the commission en banc on programs that allow for a deep, meaningful study of our rules and precedent to protect constitutional values,” he said in his speech.
Maceda and Celis are two of the three appointees of Marcos to the poll body. Comelec Chairman George Garcia already secured the nod of the CA in September.
Their confirmation ensures that the Comelec en banc will not be short of a member until 2025, when two more commissioners are scheduled to mandatorily retire.
A complete en banc allows its members to build quorum more easily, divide crucial tasks more efficiently, and ideally, resolve high-profile cases at a faster pace. – Rappler.com