Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lanto's appointment as COMELEC Commissioner bodes ill to

A discredited mid-term elections could spell the political demise of this administration. This country does not need another full-blown political crisis just because of this elections. The Sabah crisis has just made a big dent in Pnoy's public trust and credibility as leader of this Nation.

An electoral crisis may still happen if Malacanang will refuse to correct a wrong decision made by President Aquino in appointing a person of questionable character as Commissioner of the Commission on Elections. If this elections turn nasty and fraud-riden, this may result to a full-blown crisis similar to 2004. This may give Pnoy's enemies the moral standing they need to move and act against this administration thru an extra-constitutional action.

While newly installed COMELEC commissioner Macabangkit Lanto does not deny that he was endorsed by Senator Franklin Drilon, campaign manager of Team Pnoy, Lanto denies news that he became a beneficiary of a poll fraud operation in Lanao sometime in 1992. Fact is, Lanto even says that he was a victim of poll fraud.

In Hisuler vs. Lanto (HRET Case No. 92-014) 22 July 1994, it was clear that Lanto won over Hisuler due to poll fraud. Lanto's electoral victory came from alleged tampering of election returns. Lanto served for two years and was ousted and replaced by Mario Hisuler.

The HRET said in a unanimous decision that Lanto’s mandate came from fraud and he was the beneficiary of fraud.

“Lanto was proclaimed as the elected congressman for the 2nd district of Lanao del Norte on the basis of two falsified municipal certificates of canvass, which in turn were derived from tampered election returns,” the tribunal said in a decision dated July 22, 1994.

According to reports, the HRET discovered that the ballots were tampered to support the fraudulent election returns.

Lanto tried to parry criticisms about his appointment by saying that he was the victim, and not the mastermind of the fraud. Atty. Lanto, that is not what everyone read.

What is the real reason behind Lanto's appointment?

Lanto is a long time associate and trusted politician by Senator Franklin Drilon. Lanto was a classmate of Drilon and Vice President Jejomar Binay, and is a fraternity brother of Drilon in the Sigma Rho law fraternity at the University of the Philippines. Drilon became a Sigma Rhoan in 1969, six years after Mac Lanto (1963). Some say Lanto was one of those who "recruited" Drilon into the fraternity.

IN the 11th Congress, Lanto represented Lanao del Norte as a LAKAS-NUCD.

When names were being floated to the post of ARMM governor, Lanto was the one nominated by Drilon. Malacanang balked, saying they don't want a politician to assume the post. Mujiv Hataman was appointed over Lanto.

UNA is protesting Lanto's appointment saying that his appointment confirms fears of a possible administration ploy to dominate the Senatorial elections. Drilon earlier says that the Team Pnoy-Liberal Party will sweep the elections, 12-0.

With Lanto's appointment, who will not fear about such an eventuality? A source says Lanto's appointment was a remedy considered by Malacanang due to the enormous backlash the Aquino administration suffered shortly after bungling the Sabah issue.

Malacanan apparently is worried that Team Pnoy has just lost the vote in Mindanao because of the Sabah crisis. Mindanao is a vote-rich region and is traditionally the area where political fates and fortunes are decided. A Mindanaoan therefore is needed to give credence to the poll body in case doubts or protests rise during the counting.

What Malacanang does not know is that Lanto is a discredited Maranao leader. His previous candidacy for governor of Lanao was a disaster. His political stock has since diminished since that uneventful run.

Many political observers in Lanao say that Lanto waited for this moment to take revenge against those in Lanao who killed his political career. As COMELEC commissioner, Lanto may very well become a political kingmaker in his province.

Assume, however, that these things are not true, and Lanto's appointment is based on his competency. As a long-time politician, Lanto has many political debts to settle and such a person is probably vulnerable, some observers say. There are too many variables that append to Lanto's name. This is a political risk that Pnoy is not prepared to take.

Take heed before it is too late. All political actors know how important 2013 is for those who aspire for the top post in 2016. What many want Pnoy to become is a lame-duck president, and for it to happen, Pnoy must be debilitated. The recent acts of Pnoy are contributing to his disability. This President should listen to constructive criticism to save himself and the gains of his administration.