CA, IPS, dated 05 March 2014

The ad interim appointments of Hon. Luie Tito F. Guia and Hon. Al A. Parreño as commissioners of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) were confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) today during its plenary session presided by President of the Senate / Chairman of the Commission Franklin M. Drilon.

The confirmation of the COMELEC commissioners’ ad interim appointments sailed through the Commission smoothly. They got the Commission’s approval in just one sitting during the deliberations of their ad interim appointment at the constitutional commissions and offices committee, headed by Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III.

The Commission gave its consent to the ad interim appointments of Guia and Parreño as commissioners of the COMELEC, replacing Armando C. Velasco and Rene V. Sarmiento, respectively, both for a term expiring on 02 February 2020.

Guia, 48, is a native of Pangasinan who in his early life worked as an elevator operator at the Hyatt Terraces Hotel in Baguio City to support his personal needs. He earned both his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Bachelor of Laws degrees from the University of the Philippines (UP), Diliman Quezon City in 1986 and 1991, respectively. A man of humble beginnings, he “elevated” his way through the mill to become one of the poll body’s commissioners.

Immediately after passing the bar in 1992, he joined the government service as an executive assistant at the Office of the Chairman (COMELEC Chairman Christian S. Monsod), Commission on Elections. Through the years, he carved a name for himself as one of the primary experts in the field of election laws and processes as he was often tapped as an election consultant and resource speaker both in the country and abroad. He is also acknowledged as an effective lecturer, trainer and writer on election related topics such as election legal framework, election dispute resolution and campaign finance, among others. He helped draft the Rules of Procedure that govern election contests under an automated election system in the first ever automated election in the country in May 2013, and credited for helping in the conceptualization of a training program who adjudicate election contests in an automated election system. Prior his appointment to the poll body, Guia was the executive director and election law and election reform advisor of Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), a civil society group dedicated to honest elections.

Quite an achiever at a young age of 39, Parreño, on the other hand, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1996 and his Bachelor of Laws degree in 2003 from the University of the Philippines (UP), Diliman, Quezon City. He was awarded the Order of the Purple Feather (for having graduated 9th place of his batch) and the Dean’s Medal for Academic Excellence at the UP College of Law. He was editor of the Philippine Law Journal in 2002 and won as co-author for the Best Paper in Intellectual Property Law in 2003.

Parreño was recruited by the then Villaraza, Cruz, Marcelo and Angcangco Law Offices (now Villaraza & Angcangco (CVC) Law Offices) to join the firm straight from law school even before he was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 2004. During his stint at the firm, he handled cases of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings involving activist groups. As a human rights lawyer, he made significant recommendations to improve the judicial processes and the administration of the criminal justice system in the country based on a case study that he conducted. In 2011-2012, he co-founded the Diaz, Parreño and Caringal (formerly Diaz, Osias, Parreño and Caringal) Law Offices, with former colleagues from The Firm.

Also an Information Technology (IT) savvy, Parreño served as legal manager of ePLDT - the IT company subsidiary of telecom giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., (PLDT) and as project manager of the SPi Technologies - also a PLDt subsidiary, where he handled the electronic data memory and review for the firm that paved the way for the development of its Electronic Evidence Center. He joined the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in July 2012 as a board member where he served for nine months prior his appointment in the poll body.

During the plenary, Guingona made a motion in recommending the COMELEC commissioners’ confirmation with no objections raised.

In his sponsorship speech before the CA body in plenary, Guingona expressed that the committee is convinced that both commissioners are fit for the job. He cited both of their remarkable track records and regarded them as “worthy contributions and immensely valuable additions to the COMELEC.”

Meanwhile, the confirmation of Hon. Heidi L. Mendoza as Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner was deferred anew. CA member Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada , in a letter, manifested his desire to ask the appointee questions in the next schedule of the committee hearing. During the deliberations at the committee level, former state auditor Arturo V. Bersana and lawyers Mariano Sarmiento, Felicitas Aquino-Arroyo and Sandra Marie Olaso-Coronel opposed Mendoza’s appointment claiming that she is not fit to become a ranking COA official.