Appointing an MILF man: Can Aquino do this?

President Aquino recently appointed as member of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) one Sheriff Abas, an obscure lawyer. The only explanation that has emerged for this is that Abas is a nephew of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Jihad Executive Committee member and chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.

Nobody, not even a Malacanang spokesman, could put in a good word for the new appointee. That’s because no one knew him, although the roster of Philippine attorneys confirms he passed the BAR in 2005.

There were reports that he was with the Comelec as regional director for the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). False, the director there has been for several years Ray Sumalipao and assistant director Renault Macarambon.

He has never worked with the Comelec, so you can reasonably conclude he doesn’t know a thing about election laws, one of the most specialized fields of Philippine legal practice.

There were also reports that he was regional director of the Civil Service Commission for ARMM. False again, as the CSC regional director for ARMM has been Leopoldo Valderosa.

The new chairman, Andres Bautista, however, told the media that Abas has reported to him, and that he was just “winding up his work at the CSC’s Cotabato office.” But Abas must be a low ranking officer there. Of the six officers listed on the CSC’s website as manning its ARMM regional office, none is named Abas.

Abas20150513
Iqbal nephew Abas: First MILF man in Comelec?

If he has been a lawyer since 2005, Abas must have been a mediocre one. After passing the bar in 2005, he joined the CSC in 2007 and after eight years, he isn’t even among those presently listed by the CSC as running its ARMM office. Even Firdausi Abbas, president of the Muslim Bar Association of the Philippines, told the media that Abas is “unknown” and the “little information” the association has about him is that he is closely related to Iqbal.

It was new Comelec chair Bautista who verified that Abas has confirmed to him that he was a nephew of MILF chief negotiator Iqbal, whose real name is Datukan Abas. Iqbal, though, has refused to confirm the relationship. Had he not been exposed since as someone whose real name was Datukan Abas, I don’t think anybody would notice that the new commissioner was his nephew.

The only explanation, therefore, why Abas was appointed into this most important constitutional body that is a pillar of our democracy is that he is a nephew of Iqbal, who most likely asked—maybe even demanded Aquino—to put him there.

And it isn’t Iqbal obviously who asked Aquino so: Iqbal merely relayed the wishes of his principal, the MILF.

Abas is, therefore, MILF’s man in the Comelec.

The BBL law hasn’t even been passed, and the MILF already enjoys the clout to appoint its people into key government positions. One can imagine the power it would wield when given its own nation-state called Bangsamoro.

So what would an Iqbal kin’s mission be at the Comelec?

Melchor Magdamo, a co-convenor of the Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections, claims that Abas will make sure the plebiscite required for the establishment of the Bangsamoro state, as well as the elections for parliament, will favor the MILF.

Of course, the President has broad authority to appoint whomever he wishes to government posts.

But this authority is limited by those things we call decency and sense of accountability to the nation. He can’t just appoint an obscure lawyer because the MILF wishes so.

Of course, Congress’ Commission on Appointments would have to confirm Abas’ appointment.

But Aquino has been ignoring the CA, and simply reappointed four Cabinet members—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and Energy Secretary Carlos Padilla—four times when the committee refused to confirm them. The former three were finally confirmed four years after their appointment, while Petilla will be resigning the post he has held for nearly five years without being confirmed!

Aquino will most likely ignore the CA’s refusal to confirm an obscure lawyer he appointed as Comelec commissioner, at the behest—or command—of the MILF.

Aquino and the MILF certainly have all the grounds covered for setting up the Bangsamoro substate during this presidency.

Why do we allow this President to ride roughshod over all notions of accountability to the public?

Mad dog Bondal
Oops, Renato Bondal just made a fool of himself, and demonstrated to the public that he is a mad-dog like Senator Antonio Trillanes, hurling wild allegations against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son Makati mayor “Junjun.”

Bondal claimed a mere “ophthalmologist” named Dr. Jack Arroyo, purportedly a relative of former senator Joker Arroyo, is a “dummy” for the vice president as he invested in 20 percent of a health-care company that had involved the University of Makati.

Bondal’s handlers may have gone tired of their work fabricating allegations against the Binays that they’ve become lazy and weren’t doing their research well enough.

Going through public corporate records, they found a “Dr. Jack Arroyo” as an incorporator in the healthcare firm. “Must be related to Binay’s ally Senator Arroyo.” They checked the yellow pages. “Why, he’s just an ophthalmologist,” Bondal’s handlers figured, ignoramuses who thought an “ophthalmologist” is one of those people in an eyeglass store in a mall who test your sight to determine your eye grade. (Those are either optometrists or opticians, who don’t have an M.D., dummy!) “Obviously, just a dummy of Binay Arroyo supplied,” Bondal and his handlers concluded, feeding their “discovery” to Trillanes.

I nearly fell off my seat after reading Bondal’s accusations.

Dr. Arroyo is a well-known eye surgeon who made laser eye surgery (Lasik, or laser-assisted in situ Keratomileusis), very much accepted in the country, and even brought down its prices to affordable levels. An associate of his had estimated that he must have done some 50,000 such eye surgeries that “liberated” his patients from their dependence on eyeglasses.

He’s known for having done such surgery for such celebrities as Efren Bata (whose eyes are, so to speak, one of his major tools for his trade), former President Fidel Ramos and tycoon Eduardo Espiritu. The latter was so impressed with Arroyo and his work that he invested in American Eye Center where Dr. Arroyo is an investor and of which he is a director.

Dr. Arroyo’s laser surgery, in fact, has been well known even in the US—that, I’ve seen myself, with Americans and Fil-Ams crowding his clinic waiting for their turn to have their vision corrected in a few minutes by Arroyo or his associates. He has contributed a lot to medical tourism in the country.

With such a successful practice, why would he bother to act as dummy for anyone?

What a stupid Bondal, I’m amazed why the Senate even allows him to enter its building.