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MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE: 5:31 PM) Elections commissioner Augusto Lagman has started clearing out his office after Malacanang did not reappoint him.
Lagman was reportedly told his appointment would be blocked by the Commission on Appointments, according to a report by TV5’s Marlene Alcaide.
Lagman drew controversy recently by squarely opposing the majority of commissioners to approve the purchase by Comelec of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) units for the May 2013 polls from Smartmatic-TIM, the same supplier from which the government rented machines for the first nationally automated polls in 2010.
The opposition to the contract---which Chairman Sixto Brillantes dared critics to challenge in court---stems from experts' testimony that Smartmatic had not substantially redressed the glitches that were reported in the May 2010 exercise, and which sparked numerous poll protests that are still ongoing.
Beyond PCOS, it's the old issue with JPE
Lagman’s April 16, 2012 letter to Chairman Brillantes and the other commissioners, however, indicated that the primary reason for Malacanang’s failure to reappoint him is the very real possibility he will never hurdle the CA—and not necessarily the PCOS issue where he debated his colleagues. He traced his problem to a long-standing impression by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile that he (Lagman) had a role in the alleged manipulation by the citizen watchdog Namfrel of its quick count in the 1987 senatorial elections where the opposition alliance was trounced. Only Enrile and Joseph Estrada landed slots in the Senate. Lagman was part of Namfrel then.
“It’s common knowledge among senators, Malacanang officials, and some members of the Lower House that Senate President Enrile, chairman of the Commission on Appointments, will reject the confirmation of my ad interim appointment as commissioner” of Comelec, said Lagman’s letter to Brillantes and the five other commissioners.
“As such, Malacanang thought it best not to renew my appointment, presumably, to save me from having to go through the ordeal of a confirmation hearing where I could be rejected,” Lagman added.
While “it is arguable” if Enrile can muster the 13 votes necessary to effect the rejection, Lagman said there is “that other consideration that Malacanang may not want yet another tug of war even if this is of much lesser significance than the impeachment process that is still ongoing.”
He gave them copies of his January 26, 2012 letter to Sen. Koko Pimentel, electoral reforms committee chairman, where he gave a lengthy explanation of what really happened with Namfrel in 1987.