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Comelec exec who blocked Brillantes’ confirmation vies for commissioner

March 5, 2013

By MIKHA FLORES

Comelec Planning Department Director Ferdinand Rafanan. Photo from eComelec.

Comelec Planning Department Director Ferdinand Rafanan. Photo from eComelec.

A Commission on Elections official who once blocked the confirmation of Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. is now vying for one of the two vacancies in the poll body.

Planning Department Director Ferdinand Rafanan has submitted his application for Comelec Commissioner to President Benigno Aquino and told him he would spearhead anti-corruption efforts in the election body.

He also vowed to address vote buying which is “a very urgent and long-lasting issue”. He said the first automated elections in May 2010 only solved the issues of fraud and vote padding and shaving.

“Ang number 1 at pinakalaganap at pinakasakit ng election ay vote-buying so gusto ko sana magcreate tayo ng anti-vote buying task forces…nationwide, (The number 1 sickness of election is massive vote buying. That’s why we want to create anti vote-buying task forces nationwide,” Rafanan said.

There are two vacancies in the seven-member poll body vacated by retired Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco on February 2. With only two months before the May 13 elections, Brillantes says he prefers to have at least one insider fill a slot, but he will not campaign for any candidate.

Rafanan started his career at the Comelec as Provincial Election Supervisor in Ilocos Sur from 1998 to 2000. He was promoted to Assistant Regional Election Director in 2000 for the Ilocos Region. Rafanan moved to the Comelec Main Office and served as Director of Education and Information Department and Spokesperson from 2003 to 2004.

The outspoken official has had his share of intrigues at the Comelec, where he was shifted from the high-profile legal department to the relatively obscure planning department “for speaking his mind”.

Rafanan is the second nominee of the Comelec Employees Union (Comelec-EU), which earlier endorsed Lawyer Alexander Pilotin for the post. Pilotin is currently a Regional Election Attorney in Cagayan Valley and Election Officer of Santiago City, Isabela.

Rafanan opposed Brillantes’ confirmation before the Commission on Appointments in September 2011, accusing him of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices law. His opposition did not prosper. In 2010, Rafanan also tangled with Josellyn Demesa, his erstwhile deputy at the Law Department, and Commissioner Elias Yusoph.

Rafanan said he is now in good terms with Brillantes and Yusoph. He said they have even exchanged gifts last Christmas.

Nagkaintindihan naman kami ni Chairman at magtutulungan kami. Tutulungan ko siya. Nagkaroon lang kami ng miscommunication or misunderstanding na naayos namin (We now understand each other and we are helping each other. I will help him. We just had a miscommunication or misunderstanding that we have already fixed),” Rafanan said.

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