Duterte appointees to Comelec, COA, CSC bypassed

Five nominees of President Duterte were officially bypassed by the bicameral Commission on Appointments, which lacked a quorum to hold its last plenary hearing on Wednesday as the 18th Congress prepared to end its session.

Bypassed were Commission on Elections chairman Saidamen Pangarungan, and Commissioners George Garcia and Aimee Neri; as well as Civil Service Commission Chairman Karlo Nograles and Commission on Audit (COA) chairman Rizalina Justol.

Under the law, the bicameral CA must approve all the ad interim appointees, whom Duterte appointed in March when Congress was in recess. 

The three Comelec officials played key roles in the recent May 9 general elections.

The confirmation of all five officials first hit a snag last Monday when Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said it is better not to confirm them to their 7-year term to give the incoming administration of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. a free hand.

However, Sen. Koko Pimentel disputed Zubiri’s argument, noting that the five are appointees to constitutional offices, and are thus expected to be independent. Whoever appoints them should not really be a big issue, added Pimentel.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Comelec Commissioner Garcia said he was saddened by the bypass, but happy for the chance to serve in the last elections, where he stood out, often holding briefings. The veteran election lawyer said he may return to teaching, or practice election law. However, when asked if he would accept if President-elect Marcos nominates him to Comelec, Garcia said yes.

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