New Comelec chief vows credible 2019 midterm elections

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) — Newly-appointed chairman of the Commission of Elections (Comelec) Sheriff Manimbayan Abas vowed to hold a credible 2019 midterm elections.

"Mahirap 'yung election pero hangga't kaya namin we will assure na credible 'yung magiging 2019 election [It will be a challenging elections but to the best of our abilities, we will assure the 2019 elections will be credible]," said Abas, who was confirmed on Wednesday as Comelec chief by Commission on Appointments.

Part of his plan as the new Comelec chief is enhancing data security. It can be recalled that sensitive data of 55 million registered Filipino voters, including 1.3 million passport numbers of Filipinos overseas and 15.8 million records of fingerprints, were compromised following the hacking of the Comelec website by hacktivist group Anonymous Philippines in 2016.

Apart from this, he targets to have zero "failure of election" next year.

The 39-year old Mindanao native is the only commissioner from the poll body to ever be nominated as chairman. He replaces Andres Bautista, who resigned in October 2017 in the wake of ill-gotten wealth allegations. Abas will be Comelec chief until February 2, 2022.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Abas as poll chairman in November.

During the hearing at the committee level, Senator Cynthia Villar said Abas will be able to lead Comelec "with utmost credibility."

Then President Benigno Aquino III appointed Abas as elections commissioner in April 2015. The CA confirmed his appointment in May 2016.