By 2022 elections, Comelec will be packed with Duterte appointees

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will be packed with President Rodrigo Duterte's appointees by the time he steps down in 2022, with all 7 poll commissioners handpicked by the Chief Executive just in time for the next presidential election.

Duterte has appointed two Comelec commissioners whose terms will last until February 2025: ccommissioners Marlon Casquejo and Socorro Inting. Five commissioners are scheduled to retire between February 2020 and February 2022. The elections happen in May 2022.

Below are the vacancies for 2020 up to 2022, in chronological order:

  1. Replacement for commissioner Luie Tito Guia (retiring February 2020)
  2. Replacement for commissioner Al Parreño (retiring February 2020)
  3. Replacement for poll chair Sheriff Abas (retiring February 2022)
  4. Replacement for commissioner Rowena Guanzon (retiring February 2022)
  5. Replacement for commissioner Antonio Kho (retiring February 2022)

A report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) showed that by February 2020, Guia and Parreño will retire from the Comelec. Both commissioners were appointed in April 2013 by then-president Benigno Aquino III.

PCIJ showed 3 more will retire in February 2022, or just months away from the 2022 presidential election: Comelec Chairperson Abas and commissioners Guanzon and Kho. Kho was appointed by Duterte in July 2018, while Guanzon was appointed by Aquino in April 2015.

Abas, meanwhile, is a rarity in having been appointed by both Aquino and Duterte. He was appointed by Aquino as Comelec commissioner in April 2015. Two years later, after Andres Bautista resigned as elections chief, Duterte named Abas Comelec chair in November 2017.

The PCIJ highlighted in its report that the exit of seasoned poll commissioners means the appointment of newer ones who have limited experience running a national automated elections.

The Comelec is crucial for Duterte as his administration continues to push for a shift to a federal system of government, which will require a plebiscite run by the poll body.

Like the Comelec, the Supreme Court will also be filled with Duterte's appointees by 2022.

The President's allies already rule the House of Representatives, while opposition bets were wiped out in the May 2019 senatorial election. – Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler.com

Read the full PCIJ report: 7 Duterte appointees to run 2022 elections

For more PCIJ reports on the 2019 elections, you may read the following: