Monday, January 21, 2008

Palace choice to Comelec to go ‘through eye of needle’

Palace choice to Comelec to go ‘through eye of needle’
By Veronica Uy
First Posted 16:11:00 01/17/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- Senator Richard Gordon vowed Thursday to make Malacañang’s choice to chair the Commission on Elections (Comelec) “pass through the eye of a needle” to get back at the Palace’s secrecy over the shortlist of nominees to head the poll body.

“[The nominee] will pass through the eye of a needle...Malacanang’s continued refusal to heed the public’s clamor for transparency in choosing the people who should pursue electoral reforms and modernized elections only creates more controversy,” Gordon, a member of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA), said.

Malacañang has refused to reveal the shortlist of five nominees to replace resigned Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. that was submitted by a search committee to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Abalos resigned last year after being accused of allegedly brokering the since-then scrapped national broadband network contract with China’s ZTE Corp.

Aside from Abalos, two more vacancies are expected this year when commissioners Resureccion Borra, now acting chairman, and Florentino Tuason retire. This will bring the total number of vacant Comelec seats to four.

But Gordon said “there is no need to fear that the shortlist of nominees, once divulged, will be politicized. If the chosen nominee is deserves to lead, Malacañang should have nothing to worry.”

Gordon, chairman of the Senate committee on Constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws, also emphasized that the CA will reject the nomination of any Palace appointee found incompetent to head the Comelec.

He said the ability to implement the Automated Election Law (AES) for computerized voting and canvassing should be a key criterion in selecting a replacement for Abalos.

Earlier, Gordon, who has been batting for automated elections and other electoral reforms, called on the Arroyo to be transparent in filling up the vacancies in the Comelec and urged the Palace-created search committee to make its shortlist of nominees public.

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