New Comelec commissioner linked to Drilon
|Macabangkit Lanto. File Photo|
MANILA – One of President Aquino's picks for Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner is a legal consultant of the campaign manager of the administration Team PNoy ticket, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes confirmed Thursday.
Brillantes welcomed both Macabangkit Lanto and election lawyer Bernadette Sardillo as replacements of Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco who retired last month.
Brillantes said he knows both Lanto and Sardillo.
He said Lanto is a former congressman, former justice undersecretary and former ambassador.
“Presently consultant ni Senator (Franklin) Drilon. Alam ko, andun siya kay Senator Drilon. Okay lang, wala ako problema,” he said.
Lanto was endorsed in 2011 by Drilon as officer-in-charge for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Drilon said Lanto possessed the "combined skills of a diplomat, a graft-busting prosecutor and effective manager-bureaucrat."
Sardillo, whom Brillantes calls by her nickname "Beng”, was an election law practitioner like Brillantes before her appointment to head the poll body.
She appeared as legal counsel for the administration ally National Unity Party during the Comelec's hearing to determine the dominant parties for the elections.
“Kasama namin. Bata pa siya nung nagpractice ako. OK lang pareho. Nag-Twitter nako na pareho welcome ko silang dalawa,” the Comelec chief said.
Brillantes is happy since they can now have a fully functioning commission again. The Comelec chief previously batted for the appointment of an insider.
The chairman said the 2 new appointees will be distributed to the 1st and 2nd division, depending on their seniority.
Brillantes expects the 2 to report for duty on Monday if they can take their oaths of office before then.
He joked that the workload as the chair of the commission is getting to him. "Malapit na masira ulo ko,” he said.
Aquino now has a majority in the 7-man commission after appointing Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Christian Robert Lim and Grace Padaca.
Only Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph, the 2nd and 3rd most senior commissioners, are the remaining appointees of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Maricor Akol of AESWatch said that while she does not know the 2 commissioners, she hopes that the appointees will not yield to political expediency.
"I do not know them. I just hope they are more than IT literate and have experience in project management. I also hope they are of good moral character and with the fortitude and the wisdom to stand for truth and justice and not be swayed to agree for the sake of expediency,” she said.
She lamented that not one of the appointees are IT guys.
"Naku, another lawyer. Kung hindi IT guy, at least marunong mag-manage ng tao at project, hindi nang litigation at batas,” she said.
Former Comelec commissioner Gus Lagman admitted that he is also unfamiliar with Lanto and Sardillo.
"I don't know them. I hope they are IT and/or management people. If they are not, then we'll have more of the same from this agency,” he said.
Former Comelec commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal congratulated Sardillo on his Twitter account.
Anna de Villa Singson of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting welcomed the appointments.
"We congratulate the new commissioners and wish them well in their new roles. We count on the impartial, non-partisan and independent conduct of their duties,” she said.
The Comelec employees union had mixed emotions over the appointments after lobbying for insiders to be named to the 7-man commission.
"We welcome President Benigno Aquino III’s appointment of former ambassador Macabangkit Lanto and election lawyer Bernadette Sardillo to the vacancies in the Commission. These appointments are a big boost to the Commission who is now at the thick of preparations for the May 13, 2013 elections. We, however, are saddened that the President ignored our earlier call to appoint insiders to the posts,” the union said in a statement.
“Be that as it may, the more than 5,000 Comelec employees nationwide, respects the President's decision and welcomes the two new Commissioners to the Comelec. We wish to extend our willingness to work with Commissioners Lanto and Sardillo in ensuring the success of the upcoming elections,” the group added.