With no opposition to his appointment, the 39-year-old Abas faced the members of the CA’s committee on constitutional commissions and offices during his first confirmation hearing yesterday, where he was asked by almost all members regarding his work at the Comelec and on other matters related to his background.
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Comelec chief Sheriff Abas gets Commission on Appointments nod
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - May 24, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Appointments (CA) confirmed Sheriff Abas as chairman of the Commission on Elections, making him the youngest, the first Muslim and the first commissioner to head the Comelec.

With no opposition to his appointment, the 39-year-old Abas faced the members of the CA’s committee on constitutional commissions and offices during his first confirmation hearing yesterday, where he was asked by almost all members regarding his work at the Comelec and on other matters related to his background.

Abas, a nephew of Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal, was appointed as a member of the Comelec in 2015 when he was just 35 years old.

He hails from Maguindanao and is taking over the chairmanship of the Comelec left vacant by Andres Bautista, who resigned in October last year due to various controversies.

His term will end in February 2022.

The Comelec welcomed the confirmation of Abas as new chief of the poll body.

In a statement, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said Abas’ assumption of the position “comes at a most opportune time” as the Comelec is preparing for the 2019 midterm elections.

Asked about the discrepancies reported by some groups in the results of the 2016 general elections during his confirmation hearing, Abas said there was no proof to support the allegations as far as the Comelec was concerned and that the results of the electoral exercise were credible.

He denied allegations that the votes recorded in the main SD card of the vote counting machines (VCMs) did not match the images contained in the backup card.

Abas also justified the decision of the Comelec to exercise its option to purchase the VCMs from Smartmatic Inc. for the 2019 elections.

According to Abas, the price at which the Comelec purchased the VCMs from Smartmatic was only a third of its original cost.

Abas issued an invitation to the politicians and their political parties to observe the review of the source code for the VCMs to be done before the 2019 elections to allay their concerns about the credibility of the polls.

On the hybrid system being pushed by members of the House of Representatives to be used in the 2019 midterm elections, meaning manual counting coupled with electronic transmission of votes, Abas was not convinced this would be a viable option.

He said the cost of implementing a hybrid system may be prohibitive and that it has yet to be demonstrated as one that would be reliable.

However, Abas said the Comelec would respect whatever decision is reached by Congress on this issue but asked that the hybrid system be studied very carefully first.

Now that Abas has been confirmed as Comelec chairman, only two more vacancies in the poll body would have to be filled.

President Duterte has already appointed the fifth commissioner, Socorro Inting, who has yet to be confirmed by the CA.

COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS SHERIFF ABAS
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