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IT expert Gus Lagman named new poll commissioner

(Updated 5:10 p.m.) Veteran IT expert Augusto "Gus" Lagman has been appointed as the newest commissioner of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), filling up the last vacant post in the poll body. The appointment was announced by deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in Malacañang on Wednesday. "He is a known expert in the field of IT and he has been very involved in the automated elections. We know that he has spoken out on so many issues relating to the automated elections when it came to the commission, and we are confident that he can discharge the duties of his office as capably, as confidently as he has in the past," Valte said. She said the competence of Lagman "essentially clinched the decision of [President Benigno Aquino III] to put him in the Comelec." "If you recall a few months back, whenever asked about a prospective appointment, the President would always say that he wanted an IT expert given the issues that had faced the commission in the past election. He would want to have an IT expert as part of the commission," she said. Lagman welcomed the appointment. "I've accepted it but it was only announced officially (today)," he told GMA News Online in a phone interview. Asked why it took the President some time to decide on the replacements of former Comelec commissioners Gregorio Larrazabal and Nicodemo Ferrer, who both retired on February 2, 2011, Valte said Aquino wanted to be thorough in choosing the "right persons." Valte said Aquino takes a personal hand in interviewing some nominees for any prospective position. As a member of the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), Lagman had earlier opposed the idea to automate the 2010 national polls, saying it could lead to a failure of elections. Namfrel later on said the automated polls were generally credible Lagman had earlier said that the automated voting system still needs some improvements and that an IT person should be appointed to the Comelec. Aside from being an IT expert, Lagman was a convenor of the Black and White Movement — a group advocating for the resignation, impeachment, or ouster of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Lagman, who replaced Ferrer, will serve until Feb. 2, 2018. - Kimberly Jane Tan/KBK, GMA News