Poll commissioner: I'm no Garcillano

NEWLY appointed Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Macabangkit Lanto said he is ready to submit himself to "severe public scrutiny" at the Commission on Appointments (CA) to prove his integrity.

Lanto was one of the two new commissioners appointed to the poll body by President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday.

Lawyer Bernadette Sardillo was also appointed to one of the vacant posts but withdrew her application on same day Aquino announced her appointment citing her family's wish for her to stay in private practice as reason.

Showered by numerous criticisms over his alleged involvement in poll fraud, Lanto on Saturday rejected comparisons between him and the infamous former Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.
 
In a statement, Lanto said he does not intend to repeat the mistake committed by Garcillano, who was allegedly the one talking to a woman, suspected to be former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in the 2005 "Hello Garci" scandal.
 
"I am no Virgilio Garcillano. I am an advocate of electoral reforms because I was a victim of poll fraud 20 years ago. To follow Garcillano's footsteps is simply absurd, illogical and unthinkable for me," Lanto said.
 
His statement comes after questions on his credibility got overshadowed by the poll protest filed against him by opponent Mario Hisuler in the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) during the 1992 congressional elections in Lanao del Norte, which resulted to his unseating in 1994.
 
"I was a victim, not a beneficiary nor a perpetrator of election fraud, in the 1992 election protest case that eventually led to HRET unseating me as Lanao del Norte congressman even if I won the election fair and square," Lanto said.
 
Lanto's appointment is also being questioned following reports that he was endorsed to President Benigno Aquino III by Senator Franklin Drilon, the campaign manager of the Liberal Party-led coalition Team PNoy.
 
"The insinuation that I was endorsed by Senator Drilon to manipulate the May elections for the administration candidates is totally baseless and silly," Lanto said.
 
Lanto appealed to the public and to his critics to give him a chance to prove himself as an independent, impartial, and credible poll official.
 
"I have been in government service for more than 30 years, holding high and sensitive positions in the bureaucracy, and never was I ever involved in any case of fraud, corruption or misconduct. I am proud of my public service record," said the former congressman and multiple-time Cabinet member. (HDT/Sunnex)
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