MANILA — Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Christian Robert Lim has been designated as acting Chairman of the poll body a day after Chairman Juan Andres Bautista officially vacated his post.
According to Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez, the Commission en banc unanimously named the senior official as the temporary head of the commission until President Rodrigo Duterte appoints a new chairman.
“Nakabalik na en banc from their executive session and the first thing that they did was to announce that doon sa mga um-attend ng executive session, it was unanimously voted to select Commissioner Christian Lim as acting chairman of Comelec. So hanggang walang na-aappoint na bagong chairman, ang tatayong chairman ng Comelec as acting chairman is Commissioner Christian Lim,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.
Jimenez added that the en banc members unanimously voted for Lim.
“Siya ‘yung pinaka senior. Even if there had been no voting even under the old scheme of Comelec, he would have been the automatic choice anyway. Sa ngayon katatapos lang botohan nagkaroon ng unanimous voting from the Commissioners who were in the executive session and selected (Commissioner) Lim as acting chairman of Comelec.”
He said the en banc session was attended by Commissioners Lim, Al Parreño, Rowena Guanzon, Arthur Lim, and Sheriff Abas except for Commissioner Luie Guia.
Lim, the most senior among the commissioners, is set to retire in February 2018.
“He is up for retirement early next year but again, we don’t expect naman na that it will take that long to get a new appointment for the position of chairman,” he added.
Asked on what is the advantage of Lim as the acting leader of the Commission, Jimenez said: “His seniority is definitely an edge. His experience in managing elections. If you will recall, nung nag-retire si Chairman Sixto Brillantes siya din naging acting chairman at siya din ‘yung nagsimula ng preparations for 2016 elections. We are looking at a man who has a wealth of experience in managing elections…”
On Monday, Bautista officially left his post after receiving a letter from Malacanang informing him that his resignation has been accepted effective immediately.
He had tendered his resignation last October 11 with an effectivity date of December 31, citing the need to attend to his family’s needs as the main reason for resigning.
Meanwhile, the employees union of the poll body urged Duterte also to look among the qualified Comelec officials as possible replacement of Bautista.
“The Comelec-Employees Union (EU) humbly appeals for the President to consider insiders as replacement of Chairman Bautista and for the impending vacancies in the Commission. We note that there is no shortage of qualified and competent individuals from within the ranks,” they said in a statement.
On the other hand, an election watchdog believed the appointment of a new head of the Comelec need not to be immediate, noting that candidates for the post should be thoroughly screened.
“There is no need to rush appointment of Comelec Chairperson. There is a need to vet candidates to the said position, considering that such person will lead Comelec in at least three major elections: 2018 Barangay & SK elections, 2019 Midterm elections and 2022 Presidential elections,” the Legal Network for Truthful Elections said in a separate statement. PNA-northboundasia.com