Comelec says it’s premature to worry about Duterte ally’s appointment

By: Gabriel Pabico Lalu - Inquirer.net | September 22,2020 - 08:07 PM

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has dismissed concerns over President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of an ally to the poll body, saying that such worries are premature and are just based on speculations.

According to Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez, the nomination of lawyer Michael Braganza Peloton as commissioner — in lieu of former commissioner Luie Tito Guia, who retired last February — is not yet for certain as he has to face the Commission on Appointments first.

“Apart from being premature – Atty. Peloton has yet to be confirmed – these claims are only speculative,” Jimenez told INQUIRER.net.

Earlier, poll watchdog Kontra Daya sounded the alarm over Peloton’s possible appointment to Comelec, which it claimed might affect the credibility of the 2022 presidential elections.

Instead, the non-government organization called for the scrutiny of the appointment, which might also affect the Comelec’s independence.

Kontra Daya convenor and University of the Philippines professor Danilo Arao noted that Peloton — who hails from Duterte’s hometown Davao City — held various positions in the current admin, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Reclamation Authority, and previously a technical assistant in the Presidential Management Staff of the Office of the President.

“It cannot be denied that he is based in Davao and has served the Duterte administration…[but] it’s not just him, it’s the independence of the commission that is being questioned. The credibility of the 2022 elections is in peril,” Arao said.

“Theoretically, there should be nothing wrong if those assigned have a track record of independence especially when it comes to dealing with the Duterte administration. But the situation right now is that the likes of Peloton who had past dealings with the government get appointed,” he added.

INQUIRER.net has yet to contact Atty. Peloton as of now, as the telephone at his Philippine Reclamation Authority office, has not been answered.  Comelec on the other hand did not divulge the contact details of Peloton as it would be a breach of privacy.

Reports surfaced on Monday saying that Peloton was appointed by Duterte as the new commissioner, which Comelec itself confirmed.

Comelec Chairperson Sheriff Abas said that Peloton would be a great addition to the Commission’s en banc as he has experience both in law and information technology — critical as elections in the country have adopted an automated mode since 2010.

READ: Duterte appoints lawyer with IT experience as new Comelec commissioner 

But Arao says that there is a danger when other commissioners retire, especially in the much anticipated 2022 showdown between the administration and the opposition.

“With the retirement of (Commissioner Rowena) Guanzon, along with two others, it will practically be a Duterte-controlled Comelec,” Arao claimed.

“Comelec has a credibility issue right now and until it gets rid of Smartmatic, its credibility will be questioned all the more,” he added, referring to the company tapped to facilitate elections — the 2019 edition of which, was supposedly marred by irregularities and glitches. [ac]

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