The Commission on Appointments deferred for a second time Monday the hearing on the confirmation of the ad interim appointments of five top officials in three constitutional commissions—including the Commission on Elections—to give the President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. the chance to pick his own appointees.
In the wake of Monday’s deferment, Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said he and four other officials of the constitutional bodies appointed by outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte would be valid only until June 3, 2022.
Aside from Garcia, they are Comelec Commissioner Aimee Torrefranca-Neri, Comelec Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan, Commission on Audit Chairperson Rizalina Noval Justol, and Civil Service Commission Chairman Karlo Alexei Nograles.
“Based on the definition of ad interim against a regular appointment, the ad interim appointment is valid because Congress was not in session when we were appointed. The appointment is valid until the next adjournment of Congress… and well technically, the next adjournment of Congress is June 3, so therefore, it would appear that the validity of our appointment will be only until June 3, unless the CA gives us the confirmation,” Garcia said.
During the hearing, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri moved for the deferment of the hearing to afford President-elect Marcos the opportunity to pick his own appointees.
Zubiri, who won a second term in the Senate running under the Marcos banner, cited a precedent in February 2016 or during the last year of the administration of late President Benigno Aquino III, in which former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile invoked Section 20 of the CA rules on the appointments of officials for constitutional offices and members of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
During that time, Zubiri noted the CA had given the then-incoming administration of President Rodrigo Duterte a free hand to choose the officials for some constitutional commissions.
To avoid wasting time, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III proposed that confirmation hearings be done on a case-to-case basis, but Zubiri insisted instead that the matter be taken up on Wednesday or the last day of the CA session.
In a separate development, the Comelec has subpoenaed nearly 1,000 people for alleged involvement in vote-buying.
Around 400 reports from the field have been submitted with supporting evidence, while disqualification cases are now up for resolution after the respondents lodge their answers, Garcia said.
“In the case of vote-buying, we have almost 1,000 cases being investigated, and we have several subpoenas issued too, requiring the respondents to explain,” Garcia said in an interview over ANC’s Rundown news channel.
Based on data from its anti-vote buying task force, the Comelec received over 1,000 vote-buying reports from its Facebook page and email.
“We cannot act on just mere complaints. As we have said, we need supporting evidence and someone who will testify against the vote buyer,” said Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino.
However, the Comelec said investigations for other alleged cases of election fraud are underway and it would be transparent with the cases.
“In the case of other fraud, like for example, the presence of this garbage in one area in Cavite, and the data breach that happened, these are ongoing investigations but definitely, I can promise you, we will come up and we will be very open and transparent to reveal to the public what happened and transpired in these investigations,” Garcia added.
The Comelec on Monday shut down the automated election system (AES) servers and network infrastructure used in the May 9 national and local elections as part of post-election procedures.
Poll spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco said shutting down the automated server, physical server, and its network infrastructure at the Backup Data Center-Data One in Quezon City aimed to “highlight transparency.”
The process was aired on their official Facebook and YouTube pages, but the poll official said the shutting down was open to witnesses though not for live broadcast coverage due to security considerations.
The Comelec also shut down its consolidated canvassing system and the transmission router database at the Central Data Center in PLDT Vitro Taguig City.
The AES servers and network infrastructure at the Transparency Data Center in PLDT Vitro Parañaque were shut down simultaneously with the systems at the Central Data Center in Taguig City.
“The Data Centers, similar to the Transparency Server, have already served their purposes for this election, thus necessitating their decommissioning,” Laudiangco said.