Poll chief defends appointment of Comelec official

AL PARRENO can serve as commissioner of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) even if his experience as a lawyer failed to reach the 10-year requirement under the Constitution.

Defending Parreño’s appointment, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said Friday a non-lawyer can be appointed as long as the majority of the seven-man en banc are lawyers.

Commissioner Grace Padaca, for example, is an accountant.

Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP)–College of Law professor Rod Vera was quoted as saying Parreno's appointment might be unconstitutional since he has not met the requirement under Article IX (C), Section 1.

The provision states that majority, including the chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least 10 years.

“If there will really be constitutional issues raised, it is not up to us anymore. We will be accepting him. In fact, his appointment papers are already here,” said Brillantes.

Parreño and lawyer Louie Guia will complete the commission with just more than three weeks before the May 13 elections.

“Career-wise, you can say that (dream come true). But it is not something that you would really vie for. It’s just that it is where I believe I can be helpful,” said Guia, who paid a courtesy call to Brillantes.

Guia worked as an executive assistant to former Comelec chairman Christian Monsod after passing the Bar examinations in 1992. From 1996 to 1998, he was consultant to the office of then Commissioner Regalado Maambong.

He said he plans to bring the things he learned from his stint with different election watchdogs, such as the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente).

“We have electoral reform projects with non-government organizations that have working relationships with the Comelec. Maybe that is what we can contribute… particularly in election dispute resolutions,” said Guia, who Brillantes earlier described as a “practical insider” at the commission.

Parreño and Guia will be separately assigned to the two Comelec divisions, which have one vacancy each.

Brillantes said they will be officially welcomed to the commission “as soon as they are ready” to take their oath. (HDT/Sunnex)

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