Press Release
December 27, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged Malacañang to disclose the list of nominees to the positions of chairman and commissioner of the Commission on Elections to give the public a chance to size up their fitness and credentials and ensure that only the best qualified are appointed.

A five-man search committee, chaired by former Labor Secretary Bernardino Abes, was tasked to submit the list to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo not later than Dec. 15. But Pimentel expressed dismay that the committee has refused to make the list public, apparently due to lack of clearance from the President.

The other members of the search committee are businessman and former National Movement for Free Elections chairman Jose Concepcion, Jr., newspaper columnist Carmen Pedrosa, former Finance Secretary Vicente Jayme, and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines president Democrito Mendoza.

Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos tendered his resignation last Oct. 1 in the wake of the broadband deal scandal but he would officially vacate his post only on Feb. 2, 2007 when he reaches compulsory retirement age. Also to retire on the same day is senior Comelec Commissioner Resurreccion Borra.

Pimentel said it is very distressing that the selection process is shrouded in secrecy in patent disregard of the citizenry's expectation for transparency to avoid the costly errors of the past when personalities with tarnished reputation or who were politically identified with the administration were appointed to the poll body.

"Transparency in governance is the last thing that GMA has in mind. She wants the people to guess what's coming next and when it does, she wants people to just say 'amen' to whatever she wants to do," she said.

Pimentel observed that the seven-man Comelec still suffers from low credibility due to the involvement of crooked poll officials in the massive fraud that tainted the 2004 presidential elections and the May, 2007 senatorial elections in Maguindanao and other Mindanao provinces.

One effective way to restore public confidence in the Comelec is to appoint at least one poll commissioner from opposition nominees - which was broached by Pimentel and endorsed by several organizations and leaders from various sectors, the latest of which was the Philippine Constitution Association.

However, Pimentel lamented that the President has consistently turned a deaf ear to this well meaning clamor.

"Too bad that she believes in her supernatural powers to pick up the right choice for Comelec membership or for its chair. She has not learned from past mistakes and she is apparently not interested to allow the opposition to propose nominees to the vacancies in Comelec."

"The citizenry should probably tell her what's in their mind about personalities who should man the Comelec. Otherwise, it will be more of the same people who mangled the electoral process in past elections to ensure her prolonged stay in power."

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