Garcia on appointment as Comelec chair: ‘I was completely surprised’

Newly-installed Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Erwin Garcia stated on Thursday, August 4 that his appointment to head the poll body came as a surprise to him.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia (Ali Vicoy/MB)

In a television interview on CNN, Garcia mentioned that he didn’t expect it because no one called or conveyed to him the information regarding his appointment. He added that he was even relaxing at that time when it was released and somebody sent him a copy of the appointment papers.

“Hindi nga po galing pa mismo sa Palace yung copy ko and it came from a source from the Commission on Appointments and I was completely surprised by this development (My copy of the papers was not even from the Palace itself. It was given by a contact from the Commission on Appointments and I was completely surprised by this development),” he explained.

“Siguro kung hindi naman po talaga pinag-isipan based sa qualification and such other meritorious ground siguro noon pa dapat ako na-appoint kasama nung mga unang naappoint pero it took at least two months (I think if the appointment was not carefully thought of based on qualification and such other meritorious ground, I probably would have been appointed earlier but it took at least two months),” he added.

Meanwhile, on the question of how he can demonstrate his impartiality, being the former lawyer of then candidate and now President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., he said that he already proved this when he was a poll commissioner.

“Hindi po imposible at hindi naman po mahirap patunayan lalong lalo na sabi nga po sa Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility (It’s not impossible and it’s not hard to prove. According to Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility),” he explained.

He added that this responsibility should always act impartially and at the same time he said that they should also prove that they will not favor anyone just because they are indebted to them, citing the independence of the poll body.

Garcia also cited an example in the late election lawyer and poll chairperson Sixto Brillantes Jr. who was in the same situation with Garcia since he was appointed also by his client the late former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. Despite his credibility and integrity being challenged, he said that Brillantes proved that it is possible to separate being a lawyer and higher calling for public office.

He mentioned that as former poll commissioner, he inhibited from all cases that involved his past clients. He assured that if there will be any other case pending before Comelec that will involve Marcos, he will again inhibit himself. Among his other clients were former Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso; former senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, and Manny Pacquiao. But this bit of his career as a lawyer he mentioned, is all in the past now.

“The primary purpose of the institution should always prevail. Especially the provision of the constitution,” he added.

In an earlier statement, under his watch, he said, the Comelec will aim for meaningful reforms that will resolve issues identified by stakeholders and the voting public.

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