Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ appointees to the Commonwealth Elections Commission appeared before the Senate Executive Appointments and Government Investigations committee on Wednesday to state how they could best assure a fair, honest, and clean election this November.
The governor’s nominees are Lelanie I. Manglona for Rota; John D. Attao for Tinian; and Doris Ann A. Atalig and Vicenta A. Rosario for Saipan.
Manglona has served the commission for over a decade and is currently working at the Department of Finance, while Attao is a retired technical sergeant from the U.S. Air Force, with over 32 years of experience in both the U.S. military and the commercial fuel industry. Atalig is an administrative professional with over 20 years of experience, most recent of which is at the Human Resource Office of the University of California-San Diego. Rosario, with over 15 years professional experience, currently serves as a claim examiner at the Commonwealth Medicaid Agency.
In a statement, Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, expressed full trust and confidence in the nominees and that he trusts that the four will “ensure a fair safe, efficient, and honest election process.”
Election commissioners serve a term of four years. CEC executive director Julita Villagomez asked the lawmakers to confirm all four nominees so they can “move forward with the general elections.”
The nominees were not asked questions at the session but Senate president Victor B. Hocog (R-Rota) asked to meet with them later as soon as the nominees are confirmed. “Upon confirmation of your appointments, I would like to call a brief meeting with the members to share some of the sensitive issues to help the director and the working staff navigate the handling of this midterm election process,” Hocog said.
“We are all challenged today with our resources [and] I know the election commission will need substantial amount of funding to ensure that the election process is taken care of, most particularly off-island absentees, as well as the chains of election process that were instilled during this pandemic year,” Hocog added.
Sen. Teresita Santos (Ind-Rota), who raised concerns about complaints and allegations of election irregularities every election year, challenged the CEC to ensure that the electoral findings of the Office of the Public Auditor are resolved and not repeated in future elections.
In January, OPA released a report about CEC’s lack of accountability on used and unused ballots in the 2018 general elections, and that the commission’s lack of standard process for the accounting of the ballots prevents CEC from identifying potential electoral fraud or irregularities.
“There are pending legislations in the Legislature and [I am] glad that the election commissioners have reviewed and are in favor of the proposed legislations, which would make our election process be more transparent, accountable and even effective,” the lawmaker added.
Santos also praised the expanded role of women in CEC. “It’s great knowing more women are being appointed and taking over critical roles as board [members] and commissioners.”