New Comelec commissioner formally inhibits self from cases of ex-clients

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Courtesy: Comelec EID

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 10) — New Commission on Elections Commissioner George Garcia has formally inhibited himself from all cases involving his former clients to dispel concerns of conflict of interest.

The veteran election lawyer on Thursday said he formally wrote to the clerk of the commission to inhibit him from all cases involving his past clients.

Prior to his appointment to the poll body, Garcia represented high-profile clients, including presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., whom he represented in the latter’s 2016 electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.

Garcia also represented presidential hopefuls Senator Manny Pacquiao and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, and Senator Grace Poe in her disqualification case during the 2016 presidential race.

“Siguro nga wala naman akong magagawa dahil parte ng pagiging lawyer ‘yan e, but I will inhibit in all the cases I handled,” he said on Tuesday.

[Translation: Perhaps I cannot do anything because that is part of being a lawyer, but I will inhibit in all the cases I handled.]

Poll watchdog Kontra Daya has questioned the appointments of Garcia, new Commissioner Aimee Neri, and Comelec chair Saidamen Pangarungan.

“At this point, we ask the three people: What is your track record in election advocacy or lawyering?" it said in a statement. "What is your relationship with the Duterte administration? What is your assurance that you will maintain independence from the powers-that-be, including former clients who are now running in the 2022 elections?"

CNN Philippines Melissa Lopez contributed to this report.