Thursday, November 25, 2010

COMELEC Chairman Melo quits post effective end of January

COMELEC Chairman Jose Melo
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Jose Melo has resigned from the poll body, four years before his term of office is scheduled to end.  He reportedly wants to "move on" after the country's first automated elections last May and the barangay elections last October. 

A former Supreme Court justice, Melo is 78 and has been in the government service for much of his career. 

Despite dire predictions by many experts and numerous glitches in the preparations, last May's elections were generally considered a success. 

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal confirmed Melo's resignation in a text message to GMANews.TV. 

Larrazabal said Melo submitted his resignation letter to the poll body and the en banc accepted it on Tuesday. 

“I know that it [the letter] will be submitted to the Office of the President soon," he said.

In a separate interview, Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer said that the resignation will “tentatively" take effect on January 31, 2011.

“We have been talking about it [the resignation] for quite some time now. That is why hindi naman kami na-surprise talaga [we were not really surprised by it]," he said.

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Melo was appointed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Comelec chairperson in 2008.  His term of office was for seven years, or until 2015.

Larrazabal did not state the reason behind Melo’s early resignation, although he said that “the Comelec chairman’s main focus was the May 2010 elections when he was appointed to the post."

Ferrer, for his part, said that the Comelec chairperson resigned because “he wants to move on."

MalacaƱang has yet to comment on Melo's resignation. 

As Comelec chairman, Melo oversaw the conduct of the Philippines’ first ever nationwide automated elections last May 10. 

Amid a barrage of criticism about the automation glitches, Melo had said in February he would resign should the May elections fail due to the Comelec's fault. (See: Comelec chair to resign if automated elections fail)

However, despite the various technical glitches encountered before and during the polls, the country was able to elect its national and local leaders for the first time using automated counting machines.

Prior to his stint at the Comelec, Melo was appointed in 2006 by then President Arroyo to head a body to probe the various cases of extrajudicial and political killings in the country, which targeted mostly militant activists and members of the media. 

The investigating body, known as the Melo Commission, concluded that most of the killings can be attributed to the military. (See: Melo Commission: Palparan could be held liable for killings)-
 Andreo Calonzo/KBK/JV/HS, GMANews.TV

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