Brillantes, 2 commissioners retire from Comelec

MANILA, Philippines – Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr and commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph retired from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday, February 2.

In the flag-raising ceremony on their last day with the commission, the 3 officials thanked the Comelec employees and bid them farewell.

"Kayo ho ang nagpapatakbo ng eleksyon, hindi ho kami. Kami po ay parang [nagbibigay ng] guidelines nang kaunti, pero kayo ho lahat ng nag-iimplement, down to the lowest levels of this agency," Brillantes said. (You are the ones running the election, not us. We're just giving some guidelines, but it's all of you who implement.)

"Maraming maraming salamat po sa inyong mga empleyado... Hindi ko ho kayo pwedeng makalimutan," he added. (Thank you very much to all of you, employees... I will not forget you.)

At the same time, he asked for forgiveness from those he had hurt or disadvantaged during his term as chairman.

"All my decisions then up to the last day are decisions that I've made because I think and sincerely believe it is right. Kung nakasakit ho ako ng tao, hindi ko ho sinasadya (If I have hurt people, it was not intentional)," he said.

Brillantes also said that he would not be leaving a particular legacy behind. "I will leave you a big caboodle of 'inheritance.' Everything that we've done, we will leave it to you."

"We, commissioners Yusoph and Tagle, just did our work as what was required. And I believe what we did is for the good of everybody," the outgoing poll chief said.

He then acknowledged that all the hardships and criticisms he faced "is part of government service, part of the territory."

"I told my daughter last night, 'Ang hirap palang magserbisyo sa gobyerno. Pero parang ina, ang hirap din namang manganak, pero paglabas [ng baby], ang saya mo naman.' (I found out that it's hard to serve in government. But like a mother who labors in childbirth, when the baby comes out, she would feel happy),"

As for his plans after retirement, Brillantes said that he would not be returning to public service, as a promise to his children. With a one-year ban on practicing election law, Brillantes said that he might specialize in taxation or handle annulment cases.

For his part, Commissioner Yusoph expressed his gratitude for having served the commission for 6 years. "I think I have lived up to the expectations of the people," he said.

Meanwhile, Tagle said he would miss the flag-raising ceremonies and the weekly en banc sessions. But most of all, he would miss the camaraderie among the Comelec commissioners and employees.

Tagle ended his message with a line from "The Sound of Music": "So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye." (READ: Tagle, Yusoph bid Comelec goodbye)

Brillantes was appointed to the poll body by President Benigno Aquino III in January 2011, serving the unexpired term of Jose Melo who resigned. Meanwhile, Tagle and Yusoph were appointed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Their departures come in the middle of preparations for the 2016 national and local elections.

Commissioner Christian Robert Lim has been designated as the acting Comelec chairman and will serve until March 21, as President Aquino is barred from appointing officials while Congress is in session.

Therefore, the remaining 4 commissioners, explained Brillantes, would have to decide unanimously to obtain a working majority.

Brillantes' advice to acting chairman Lim: "Relaks ka lang. Walang kwenta 'yung mga batikos... Kalahati lang ang alam nila. Hindi nila alam ang tunay na nangyayari." (You just relax. Criticisms are of no value. They only know half of the story. They do not know what really happens.) –

Michael Bueza

Michael is a data curator under Rappler's Tech Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.