No palace advice on midnight posts — Comelec

PCOO.GOV.PH

THE EXECUTIVE branch had not sought the approval of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s “midnight appointments,” according to an election commissioner.

“For midnight appointments, they have to seek an exception from Comelec,” Commissioner George Erwin M. Garcia told an online news briefing. “As far as I know, we have not received any yet.”

Under a Comelec resolution dated Dec. 16, government officials are barred from hiring new employees during the appointment ban from March 25 to May 8.

Mr. Duterte has appointed Lieutenant General Vicente D. Danao, Jr. acting police chief, the presidential palace said after the Comelec briefing.

Mr. Danao will replace General Dionardo B. Carlos, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on May 8, a day before election day. Mr. Carlos served for six months as police chief, while his replacement is set to retire next year.

Mr. Danao, who headed the regional police in the Calabarzon and National Capital Region, is the eighth police chief under the Duterte government.

“Danao’s taking over the helm of the Philippine National Police (PNP) is pivotal and timely especially at this time when the country is about to elect its new set of leaders during the national and local elections on Monday,” Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año said in a statement posted on the agency’s website.

“As officer-in-charge of the PNP, Danao’s first order of the day is to ensure that all security preparations are in place and all police units are mobilized and on alert so that the country will have peaceful, orderly and honest elections.”

Before the palace announcement of Mr. Danao’s appointment, Mr. Año told the same briefing the next police chief would only act as an officer-in-charge, citing the appointment ban under the 1987 Constitution.

Meanwhile, Mr. Garcia said senatorial and party-list winners might be proclaimed as early as May 15, while the winning local candidates would probably be proclaimed on the evening of election day on May 9, which Mr. Duterte on Thursday proclaimed a special nonworking holiday.

Congress will be the one to proclaim the new president and vice-president when it resumes session on May 23.

“Even before that, even after two or three days of voting, there will already be partial counts coming from citizens’ arms and media because they have access to our transparency server,” he added.

Meanwhile, Comelec has named PDP-Laban as the dominant majority party and the Nacionalista Party as the dominant minority party among 12 political parties for the May 9 elections.

Under an 11-page resolution issued on May 4, the watchers of the dominant parties will be given priority inside voting centers and access to election returns.

The election body chose the dominant parties based on the number of incumbent officials, organizational structure, the number of women candidates and their record in past elections.

The two factions of PDP-Laban were treated as one single political party, the election body said. Comelec has yet to decide on the intra-party dispute of the ruling PDP-Laban party.

The election body earlier allowed candidates from both factions to use the party name on their printed ballots pending a decision on the suit.

Mr. Garcia, who inhibited himself from the case because he used to lawyer for the party, earlier said they would resolve the dispute before May 9. He earlier said the quarrel would be resolved by end-March. 

Mr. Garcia also said the Comelec full court would resolve before May 9 the lawsuits seeking to disqualify ex-Senator and presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr.

Also on Thursday, House Deputy Speaker Rufus B. Rodriguez asked Congress to secure all preparations for the canvassing of presidential and vice-presidential votes.

Arrangements should be made with Comelec for the smooth and speedy transmission of certificates of canvass from provinces and independent cities, he said in a statement.

“There should be a mechanism for expediting the sending of provincial and city results to Congress in case of unreasonable or suspicious delay,” he added. — John Victor D. Ordoñez, Alyssa Nicole O. Tan and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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