Philippines: Issues raised over Arroyo’s appointment of Macarambon



Here’s my latest blog roundup for Global Voices Online:

Embattled President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo recently appointed Moslemen Macarambon Sr. as commissioner of the Commission on Elections just before the Philippines went into an extended All Saints Day holiday. The appointment comes at the heels of the barangay (village) elections and the resignation of Comelec Chairperson Benjamin Abalos Sr. following revelations that he allegedly committed attempted bribery on another national official for a project in favor of a Chinese firm.

Here’s a photo of Macarambon Sr.:

Marambon’s son posted on Moslemen Macarambon Jr. Personal Blog the newly-appointed Comelec commissioner’s credentials and defended his dad from critics:

[H]e is the fiercest and the most feared Judge in Lanao Province because of his integrity and his case decision is not for sale. He also garnered some awards like one of the Most Outstanding Judges in Philippines

and adds that:

I believe he deserve [sic] the post of Comelec Commissioner and he has the integrity to restore the people’s trust in the poll body.

Buddy Blogs pities Macarambon:

I guess any person appointed to this position would get a high level of scrutiny. Some groups are also questioning why his appointment did not go through a transparent process. Now, this is something that i have to agree with.

But is this Mr. Macarambon’s fault? That he was appointed using a process not agreed by many?

and asks that he be given a chance to prove himself:

I suggest that we give Mr. Macarambon the chance to prove himself, that indeed he is fitted for the position. All eyes is now on him, plus there is a high level of vigilance in our country. I’m sure any wrong deed will be noticed.

Who knows, he might be an agent of a Peaceful, Orderly, and honest elections.

Also giving Macarambon a fair chance is Alleba Politics:

I do hope that new Commissioner Macarambon will be able to prove … critics wrong, not just for Macarambon and his family, but for the sake of the electoral body and the entire electoral system.

The team blog Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism is unimpressed:

Macarambon is a virtual unknown, which has only cast suspicions on his appointment to the Comelec. This, despite reports saying he was nominated by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide. As erstwhile presidential adviser on electoral reforms, Davide recommended thoroughgoing reforms in the electoral system, which include filling up the present vacancies in the poll body with people of known integrity and competence.

and presents a 1999 Supreme Court resolution of a civil case filed by Macarambon, who was at the time the presiding judge of the RTC, Branch 11 of Malabang, Lanao del Sur, against the Trans-Asia Shipping Lines, an inter-island shipping company. PCIJ left it for readers to decide what to make of it.

The elections watchdog of the influential Roman Catholic Church swiftly also assailed Macarambon’s appointment, saying that the process of choosing the next Comelec commissioner and chairperson should be “made public”.

Says Random Thoughts:

There are legitimate issues to the appointment of Judge Macarambon in the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Why was he appointed when his name was not included in the short list of candidates? If your going to appoint somebody outside of your short list, then maybe you should not have submitted the short list of candidates in the first place and just appointed Judge Macarambon directly. The short list serves a purpose, it notifies people of the possible nominees so they can check their background and qualifications throughly, even before they appear before the Commission on Appointments.

Manila Journal posted the list of nominees that came out days before Macarambon’s appointment.

In a statement posted on his blog, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Macarambon is a protege of disgraced former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano:

My two independent sources stand by their assertion that it was Garcillano who recommended Judge Macarambon to the Comelec. I maintain my position that if indeed Mrs. Arroyo heeded Garcillano’s request to have Macarambon appointed, there is no denying the fact that the appointment is, to say the least, tainted.

Garcillano or Garci the Comelec Commissioner President Arroyo allegedly spoke with for several times during the height of the canvassing of votes in the 2004 presidential elections.

Macarambon and the presidential palace have separately denied Lacson’s accusation.

For An OFW Living in Hong Kong, the senator’s charge is disputable:

Who is Moslemen Macarambon? He’s the protégé of Hilario Davide, the former Chief Justice who became the kingmaker of Gloria Arroyo. Can Gloria refuse Hilario Davide? After Macarambon’s appointment to the Comelec, the answer is quite clear. Senator Ping Lacson is therefore incorrect to say that Macarambon is Garci’s.

but shares suspicions regarding the appointment:

Can anybody say that Gloria Arroyo knows Macarambon personally that she is so impressed by his qualifications and capabilities that he be appointed to a very sensitive post? I doubt that very much. Gloria is just proving us right that all her moves are transactional, this one is another payoff to people who’ve served her well.

Piercing Pens observes:

In an interview with Macarambon on ANC, he said he knows Garci, but Arroyo’s phonepal probably does not know him.

Says Random Thoughts:

There are legitimate issues to the appointment of Judge Macarambon in the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Why was he appointed when his name was not included in the short list of candidates? If your going to appoint somebody outside of your short list, then maybe you should not have submitted the short list of candidates in the first place and just appointed Judge Macarambon directly. The short list serves a purpose, it notifies people of the possible nominees so they can check their background and qualifications throughly, even before they appear before the Commission on Appointments.

The choice of persons for the two vacancies in the Comelec is an important one, according to Pages by Arlene dela Cruz and shares why:

Nothing wrong with accomodation, certainly nothing wrong with pursuing a genuine reconciliation between the so called EDSA 1, 2 and 3 factions but the task of bringing back the integrity of the poll body is another thing.

To accomodate the need to bring back the integrity of the commission, the president, if I may suggest, need not look far.

Pages by Arlene dela Cruz refers to Persida Acosta, the country’s number one lawyer at the Public Attorneys Office, as an acceptable nominee to become the next Comelec chairperson.

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