Acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is committed to make the selection of appointees to positions vacated by the recently-retired Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials “completely transparent”, Malacañang said Monday.

This, after Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, acting presidential spokesperson, announced early this month that Duterte now has a shortlist of nominees for positions in the Comelec.

“The President has likewise committed that the selection of appointees to positions vacated by the recently-retired officials of the Commission on Elections shall be completely transparent, with candidates undergoing a stringent merit-based vetting process,” he said in a press statement.

Nograles also reiterated Duterte’s assurance that his administration will ensure honest, peaceful, and credible elections on May 9, 2022.

He said Duterte will guarantee that the electoral exercise would fully conform with the requirements of the Constitution and law.

Comelec Chair Sheriff Abas and Commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Antonio Kho Jr. retired earlier this month, leaving three important posts vacant three months before the elections.

The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) has called on Duterte to make public shortlisted candidates for the three vacant posts at the Comelec and ensure an “open and transparent” appointment process.

“Namfrel enjoins President Rodrigo R. Duterte to make public its shortlisted candidates, and to invite ordinary citizens to present comments, inputs, and personal information on the candidates, before the Office of the President makes the final decision on the appointments, to ensure transparency in the process and to help identify the most qualified and competent appointees,” the group said in a statement.

It said “a transparent appointment process, with focus on qualifications and suitability for the job, will help dispel concerns that the Comelec as a constitutional body will be composed of individuals that only come from the President's hometown, or who are inside the President's inner circle.”

Namfrel also said such a merit-based and transparent approach is necessary, given that the May 2022 polls will be conducted under extreme safety and health challenges due to Covid-19 pandemic and that an open process will help reinforce public trust in the Comelec

"As the steward of the Philippine election process, the Comelec should be strengthened, and should invite the trust and respect of the Filipino people," Namfrel said.

"Namfrel believes that by ensuring that the appointment process will be open and transparent, the President will leave a lasting legacy of a strong, independent, and credible Commission on Elections," it added. (PNA)