Former Marcos election lawyer George Garcia named Comelec chair

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
Former Marcos election lawyer George Garcia named Comelec chair
This photo shows Comelec Commissioner George Garcia.
News 5 / Greg Gregorio

MANILA, Philippines — Former elections lawyer and Commission on Elections Commissioner George Erwin Garcia has been appointed the poll body’s ad interim chairman on Monday. 

"I am humbled and thankful for the trust and confidence given to me by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. It is a privilege to lead the constitutional commission that enables our right to suffrage," Garcia said in a statement. 

A copy of the letter submitted to the congressional Commission on Appointments by Malacañang provides that Garcia’s term will expire on February 2, 2029. The appointment is subject to confirmation by Congress.

As a veteran elections lawyer, Garcia represented Marcos Jr. in the electoral protest on the 2016 vice presidential elections. The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, eventually dismissed the protest, saying Marcos Jr. failed to "substantiate his allegations of massive anomalies and irregularities in [Vice President Leni Robredo’s favor]."

Why the CA bypassed his appointment

Upon being designated as Comelec commissioner earlier this year by former President Rodrigo Duterte, Garcia wrote to the Clerk of the Commission to formally inhibit from deliberations of any case involving calls for Marcos Jr.'s disqualification. 

However, his official appointment as commissioner was bypassed by the congressional CA two months ago, along with the appointment confirmation of former Comelec Chair Saidamen Pangarunga, Comelec Commissioner Aimee Torrefranca-Neri, Commission on Audit Chairperson Rizalina Justol, and Civil Service Commission Chairperson Karlo Nograles.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri admitted at the time that the incoming administration requested to allow Marcos Jr. to pick officials to lead the constitutional officies.

Garcia previously said that he would take an opportunity to serve the poll body again should he be given the chance and now that he helms the Comelec, he said he will "remain impartial and independent."

He also plans to push for "meaningful reforms" to resolve issues that have already been brought to the Comelec's attention by the public and other stakeholders.

"These will include sturctural reforms that will strengthen good governance founded on accountabilty, transparency, and integrity," Garcia said on Monday.

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