Macarambon fallout: Church group says changes needed in selection process for Comelec top posts

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting has called for the use of a selection process similar to that of the Judicial and Bar Council, the online portal of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines reported.

The JBC suggests appointees for vacancies in the Supreme Court.

"This would guarantee transparency of choosing appointees to the Comelec," PPCRV national chairperson Henrietta De Villa said, as quoted by CBCP online.

PPCRV said Malacanang has ignored calls for transparency in the selection process in the Comelec to salvage its credibility.

Macarambon, a Regional Trial Court judge in Iligan City, was appointed last week to the Comelec. His appointment, however, has hit a snag after Senator Panfilo Lacson accused him of having links with former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

Garcillano, also from Mindanao, became controversial after he was implicated in the “Hello, Garci” scandal, a discovery of wiretapped conversations allegedly between the President and an election official which detailed plans to steal the vote during the 2004 presidential elections.

Macarambon's appointment as Comelec commissioner dismayed the poll watchdog, according to the report. 

PPCRV hit the procedure of appointment saying Macarambon was not even in the list of nominees reportedly submitted by Malacañang to the poll body.

"The appointing power is still with the president but a wide consultation is also necessary," De Villa was quoted in the CBCP online report.

Meanwhile, Macarambon's son Moslemen Macarambon Jr. claimed in his blog last week his father has been eyed for the job since January 2007. 

Lawyer Paisalin Tago, speaker of the Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), told a Kidapawan-based reporter there are too many Macarambons in Lanao del Sur.

He challenged Lacson to double-check his facts.

The senator has vowed to block Macarambon's confirmation by the Commission on Appointments.

CBCP president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo earlier said he was pleased new officials will be serving the Comelec.

Apart from the seats vacated by commissioner Mehol Sadain and resigned Comelec chair Benjamin Abalos, two new commissioners are up for appointment as OIC chair Resurreccion Borra and Commissioner Florentino Tuason, Jr. are set to retire in February next year.

In a statement dated October 30, the CBCP called for an end to secrecy as unconfirmed reports have already surfaced about the nomination process. It also said a "wide consultation" was necessary to restore the credibility of the Comelec.

PPCRV has earlier called on President Arroyo to appoint "women and men of untarnished integrity and proven record of competence" to the Comelec.