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Unity Statement: Criteria in Choosing the Next COMELEC Chairperson and Commissioners

In January 2022, PARTICIPATE, a non-partisan and pro-democracy 2,500-strong coalition of academe, civil society organizations, youth groups, and sectoral leaders, called on President Rodrigo Duterte to make the appointment of Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairperson and Commissioners open and transparent to ensure that the next officials are committed to maintaining the political independence of the electoral. In addition, the Coalition called on the President to "Appoint individuals as COMELEC Chairperson and Commissioners based on integrity, proven competence, probity, and independence."

PARTICIPATE reiterates our call to appoint qualified individuals to the COMELEC based on a clear set of criteria to protect the integrity of the institution, our elections, and ultimately, our democracy. The members of the COMELEC must be able to assert their autonomy and demonstrate that no political force or favor will be allowed to intervene in any manner in the performance of their mandates.

The current issue involving COMELEC Commissioners concerning cases brought before it underscores the importance of our proposed criteria. Indeed, the COMELEC Chairperson and Commissioners must not only be impartial, but they must also be widely perceived as impartial. Their personal and professional conduct should be above suspicion and beyond reproach.

It is also clear to us that the President should not nominate an individual who has, or is, perceived to have a partisan background. The President should not appoint a person solely due to his fraternity affiliation. We also firmly believe that the President should not nominate another person to this key constitutional body primarily because they hail from the Davao region. In fact, breaking from these networks will signal strongly that the President drew from a larger and more competitive pool of public servants.

Given the unique situation that confronts us as we are holding our elections under a pandemic, as well as the myriad challenges concerning our political and electoral laws and practices, we outlined below our proposal on the standards we believe should be used in choosing and evaluating the next COMELEC Chairperson and Commissioners.

The Constitution provides for the minimum qualifications to be appointed to the COMELEC. However, we believe that these additional standards are inherently expected and required from the officials of the election management body in order to protect the integrity of our elections, which is the very foundation of our democracy.


  1. The appointee must be truthful and honest in both words and actions -a life marked by integrity and accountability. This involves demonstrated experience in upholding fairness and truth as they exercise discretion in their decisions and actions.

  2. In discharging his/her duties as a public official or private individual, the nominee must not have been involved in or condoned graft and corruption and other acts contrary to our democratic values. He/she should behave ethically.

  3. The COMELEC Chairperson and Commissioners must render just, correct, and impartial decisions and do so in a manner free of any suspicion about their independence, impartiality, and integrity.