Newly-appointed Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairperson Saidamen Balt Pangarungan vowed to preserve the independence of the poll body as he and two newly-appointed commissioners officially assumed office on Wednesday.
Malacañang on Tuesday announced the appointment of Pangarungan as chair and George Garcia and Aimee Neri as commissioners of the Comelec ahead of the May 9 national and local elections.
“We aim to strengthen this Commission so that we can perform our most important mandate, and that is to preserve the sanctity of the vote and the independence of this Commission,” he said in his message during the formal welcome ceremony at the Comelec Session Hall in Intramuros, Manila.
Pangarungan, a lawyer and former governor of Lanao del Sur, thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for appointing him to replace retired Comelec chair Sheriff Abas.
“I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for the trust he has bestowed upon this humble public servant to lead one of the most instrumental institutions of democracy. I come here with the mission of further strengthening this Commission. Let me chart this Commission’s course as we take this journey together,” he said.
Pangarungan also urged all the commissioners to join him in raising the level of integrity of the Commission.
“As a collegial body, I know my fellow Commissioners will work with me in elevating the level of integrity of this Commission. This is imperative as the Comelec embodies the very essence of democracy,” he said.
Garcia, a veteran election lawyer, and Neri, a former undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, also reported on their first day in the job on Wednesday.
They joined Commissioners Socorro Inting, Marlon Casquejo, Aimee Ferolino, and Rey Bula.