By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Rappler

It's an appointment frenzy week for President Rodrigo Duterte as he appointed three new officials for the Commission on Elections (Comelec), one of which will serve as the poll body’s chairperson while the other two will serve as commissioners.

In a Palace briefing, acting Presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said that Duterte approved the appointments of Saidamin Pangarungan, George Erwin Garcia, and Aimee Neri as the new commission’s executives following the vacancies of former chairman Sheriff Abas and former commissioners Antonio Kho Jr. and Rowena Guanzon. Andanar added that Duterte directed the new officials to commit for an “honest, peaceful, credible and free elections.”

As a backgrounder, Pangarungan served as a secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos and governor of Lanao del Sur. On the other hand, Neri served as an undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Garcia became one of the legal counsels of vice presidential loser Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in the 2016 elections.

Asked if Garcia’s appointment would cause a conflict of interest since Marcos will vie for presidency in the 2022 polls, Andanar urged for respect to the chief executive as it passed mandated processes.

“Dumaan ‘yan sa vetting process, dapat respetuhin natin ang prerogative ng Pangulo na pumili. Hindi naman ito basta basta lang pinipili. Napakahabang proseso, may vetting process. It’s not easy to choose, especially sa quasi-independent body like the Comelec,” Andanar said.

The three officials, pending House and Senate lawmakers’ nod, can immediately assume their respective office as the Congress is on break amid election campaigns.

Edited by: Phylline Calubayan