April 20, 2012
Dear Mr. President,
We are deeply disappointed in your decision not to re-appoint Augusto (Gus) Lagman as a Commissioner in the Comelec, and would like to add our voices to the clamor for you to reconsider that decision.
Mr. President, the explanation by Sec. Ricky Carandang as to the basis for your decision does not make sense – to spare Gus the humiliation of a rejection by the Commission on Appointments.
That suggests that there are valid grounds for rejecting which he would not want to make public. Yet what we get from Sec. Carandang’s statement is that there were feelers from some members of the House that Gus would be rejected by the Commission on Appointments without mentioning on what grounds. The only hint was a euphemistic reference by Sec. Carandang to a “difference of opinion” between Gus and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile with respect to the 1987 senatorial elections.
We assume that when you appointed Gus, you did a thorough background check on his integrity and competence and that he passed both tests. Gus was endorsed overwhelmingly by the IT community, by people who worked as volunteers in election watchdog organizations the past 28 years, by the business community, church groups, etc. because he was well-known in all those circles as an indefatigable volunteer who was at the center of citizen parallel count operations.
Gus has served our country well. He should be allowed to defend himself publicly from any accusation on his integrity and competence and the President should be the first to uphold that right by re- appointing him and sending out the message to his allies in the Congress that they better have valid grounds to reject him.
Does not “daan na matuwid” also mean that those who are willing to serve the government and have the integrity and competence to do so should be protected from the dirt of politics or the whims of politicians that cannot stand critical public scrutiny? Instead, Gus was unceremoniously set aside even if he was willing to be subjected to the harshest of possible treatment by the Commission of Appointments because he was confident that he could answer the accusations before the public. Are not people like him worthy of presidential support? Isn’t this a good opportunity to test the efficacy of the system of confirmation which is supposed not only to safeguard the public interest from unworthy nominees but is also designed to lay bare for the public to see whenever the process is used for self- aggrandizement and political blackmail?
Mr. President, we reiterate our appeal to you to reconsider your decision. We are certain, that Gus will serve this country and your government well at the Comelec, even as a lonely advocate of alternatives to public choices or as a trusted sentinel in the system of checks and balances in government institutions, particularly those with broad constitutional powers like the Comelec, and are, therefore, prone to abuse, corruption and backroom double-dealing. If you allow Gus to be cast aside for unsubstantiated and obscure reasons, the message to the Comelec is “business as usual”. That is going to be bad for the future of our electoral system, and disastrous for your Daan Na Tuwid.
Movement for Good Governance
Milwida M. Guevara
Former Undersecretary Department of Finance
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