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Two new poll commissioners to be named before appointment ban — Palace

Completing the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) roster of commissioners is an issue that will be “resolved in a timely manner,” a Malacañang official said Monday. At a press briefing, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said President Benigno Aquino III has enough time to appoint two new Comelec commissioners before the election ban on appointments. Aquino has until March 29 to fill up the vacancies in the poll body, after which the constitutional ban on appointments will kick in and last until May 13, election day. “Yes,” Lacierda said when asked if the appointments will be made before the appointment ban. “And the issue of appointments will be resolved in a timely manner.” Two of Aquino's recent appointments to the Comelec — former Lanao del Norte Rep. Macabangkit Lanto and  election lawyer Bernadette Sardillo — have backed out from the position, with Lanto citing the controversies surrounding him and Sardillo a family member's health. Lanto has been linked to allegations of poll fraud, although he has since belied these claims. Lacierda declined to further comment on the nature of the two appointees’ withdrawal, saying that Lanto and Sardillo’s letters “should speak for themselves.”   Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigal Valte, meanwhile, praised Lanto for his “delicadeza.”   "The highest consideration for the country is to restore confidence in the electoral system. Mr. Lanto's decision to withdraw as commissioner of the Comelec is a demonstration of personal delicadeza,” Valte told reporters in a text message.   She said Lanto's withdrawal “gives the President an opportunity to make a new appointment to the position. We will make the announcement as to the new appointees at the appropriate time.” Lanto and Sardillo were appointed by Aquino on March 7 to replace retired Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco. — Patricia Denise Chiu/KBK, GMA News