IT expert named new Comelec commissioner; watchdog pushes for changes in voter registration 


PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has appointed Nelson J. Celis as a commissioner of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).  

“I am pleased to transmit the nomination letter of Mr. Nelson Java Celis signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., for a term expiring on February 2, 2029,” according to an appointment letter signed by Executive Secretary Victor D. Rodriguez.  

Mr. Celis was the spokesperson of Automated Election System (AES), a coalition of nearly 50 organizations that has been advocating for transparent and clean elections since 2010.  

Mr. Celis is an electronics and communications specialist with degrees in electronics and communications engineering and business administration from Don Bosco Technical College and De La Salle University, where he is a faculty member. 

He had previously worked in other government agencies such as the Commission on Higher Education, Department of Science and Technology, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.  

“We sincerely believe that his expertise and long experience in Information Technology will immensely benefit the COMELEC and further enhance the automation of our electoral processes,” the election body said in a statement on Monday.  

Mr. Celis will take the post of former commissioner Aimee S. Torrefranca-Neri, whose appointment was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) in June. 

“It’s a regular appointment (Mr. Celis) cannot assume yet until confirmed,” Comelec Chairman George Erwin M. Garcia told reporters in a Viber message.  

Under the Constitution, election commissioners have a seven-year term and cannot be reappointed. Their appointment must be approved by the CA, composed of senators and congressmen. 

NAMFRELMeanwhile, the National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) on Monday called on the Philippine Congress to amend existing laws or pass new measures that would make the voter registration process more efficient, less costly, and more convenient.  

In a statement, the election watchdog said among its recommendations are legislation that would allow the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to share data in the national ID system with the Comelec.  

“This would save time and costs not only for the local Comelec offices but also for would-be voters who have to line up even before the sun has risen just to be able to submit their applications,” it said.  

There were 65.75 million registered voters and 1.7 overseas voters in this year’s national and local elections. 

Namfrel also said voters who did not vote in two successive preceding regular elections should not be deactivated for the current voter registration period.  

“Voters should not be penalized for the failure to exercise their right to choose leader, and then line up before sunrise to apply for activation,” it said.  

“If the reason for including failure to vote as a ground for deactivation is that those who failed to vote may have done so because of death, this would be addressed by the PSA and the civil registrars nationwide submitting information on deceased persons to the Comelec.”  

The watchdog also pushed for the development of internet voting and other mechanisms that will adopt the use of new technology.   

Comelec is preparing to hold the village and youth council elections in December despite calls from lawmakers to postpone them.  

Namfrel earlier rejected the proposal saying voters should be allowed to choose local leaders regularly and “without interruption.” The village elections had already been postponed twice. — John Victor D. Ordoñez