Macalintal’s nomination as Comelec chair opposed

REPORTS that Malacanang is considering election lawyer Romulo Macalintal as the next chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was met with opposition by women’s groups.

Elizabeth Angsioco, National Chair of Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP), a national federation of almost 300 community women’s groups with around 40,000 individual members, on Thursday said “Atty. Macalintal may be a good election lawyer but his being a religious conservative and his intolerance to views opposing his are dangerous. We need more progressive or at the very least open-minded people in Comelec.”

“We must remember that Macalintal, together with Prolife Philippines, harassed and shouted at Catholic reproductive health (RH) advocates, virtually calling them Satan outside the Manila Cathedral on November 20 last year. Macalintal’s intolerance, even arrogance, was caught on video. He was also seen trying to grab one of the cameras. Thus, the prospect of having someone like him calling the shots in Comelec is quite alarming,” she added.

Angsioco asserted that the Aquino administration “should be forewarned that such an attitude will likely surface if he (Macalintal) gets appointed as Comelec chair.”

“What will a chair like Macalintal do in the face of pro-RH candidates and party-list groups? How will he decide for instance, on issues of representation of gays and lesbians? Or those favoring the re-legalization of divorce? Will his intolerance be reflected in his decisions? The government should not take this risk for surely, this will be met with strong opposition from candidates and pro-RH organizations alike,” she said.

“We strongly oppose Macalintal for Comelec chairmanship. After all, there is no dearth of qualified candidates for the post,” said Angsioco.

The group also called on the Liberal Party to review its support for Macalintal and on President (Benigno) Aquino III “not to appoint a conservative and intolerant person to hold the highest position in this very important body.”

Macalintal, however, just brushed aside DSWP’s criticisms, describing the group’s claims as “irrelevant” and “shallow.”

“Wala namang kinalaman ‘yung sinasabi nila sa posisyong ito. Napakalayo at napakababaw ng pananaw nila sa bagay na ito (What they were saying had nothing to do with the position. Their views on this issue is too shallow),” he said.

Macalintal, who served as counsel to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said he does not care what critics have to say.

“Bahala sila kung ano ang gusto nilang gawin. Hindi ako natatakot sa sasabihin ng tao. Gagawa ako ng desisyon batay sa batas ng Diyos at tao (It’s up to them whatever they want to say or do, I’m not afraid on what other people say against me. I will decide according to the laws of God and of the people),” he said.

Besides, the election lawyer said he’s not even sure whether he will accept the post of Comelec chairman if ever the President offers him the position.

“Gusto ko lang malaman nila na hindi ko pa tinatanggap ‘yung posisyon at hindi ko pa alam kung tatanggapin ko ito kung ako ang mapili. Kay Presidente ko lang maaaring sabihin ‘yun (I just want them to know that I haven’t accepted the position yet or will I accept the position in case I will be chosen. It’s only to the President that I will answer,” he said. Lilybeth G. Ison

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