MANILA, Philippines – From shaking his head in resignation, poll chief Sixto Brillantes Jr returned to his office on Wednesday, April 17, in fighting mode. The man who threatened to resign was ready to face the Supreme Court (SC).
Brillantes, who got teary-eyed in disappointment on Tuesday, April 16, said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will soon ask the SC to resolve the merits of the case on airtime limits. He said he will ask the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), which represents the Comelec, to file this motion before the high court.
On Tuesday, Brillantes criticized the SC for issuing a status quo ante (SQA) order on its airtime rules two months after television networks first complained about it. He said given this long period of time, he expected something much more definitive from the SC – a decision on the merits of the case.
The Comelec, for this year's elections, reverted to the original rule on airtime, based on the Fair Elections Act – that each candidate for a national position can only air with all TV stations an aggregate of 120 minutes. GMA-7, TV5, and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, as well as re-electionist Senator Alan Peter Cayetano went to the SC on this. They want the law interpreted to mean each candidate can buy 120 minutes per TV station.
“Sana matapos na 'yon on the merits. Since nag-issue kayo ng status quo ante order, kailangan tapusin n'yo ang merits in the next few days,” Brillantes told reporters in an interview on Wednesday. (I hope they resolve the case on its merits. Since you issued a status quo ante order, you should rule on the merits of the case in the next few days.)
Brillantes will also ask the OSG to file a similar motion to appeal the case of Bacolod's “Team Patay” tarpaulins, a month after the SC issued a TRO on the Comelec's order to take these down.
The 73-year-old election chair, who felt “very, very disappointed” with the SC, blasted the high court for its process in issuing SQAs and TROs.
“Hindi magandang proseso, na when you file a petition, hindi mo aakysunan,” Brillantes explained. (It's not a good process that when you file a petition, you won't immediately act on it.)
He said the SC leaves people hanging. “I think the Supreme Court should have thought of that,” he said. (Watch more in the video below.)
Brillantes, however, said the Comelec has not received a copy of the SC's SQA order. “It is not clear up to now,” he said.
What is clear for him, he said, is that the SQA order is a “no-decision.” He sought to temper perceptions that the SQA order is a final decision, and therefore a victory for petitioners.
"Merong isang senador na nagsasabing nanalo na kami sa desisyon. Ano ba naman?” Brillantes said, in apparent reference to Cayetano, a candidate under Team PNoy. (There's one senator who keeps on saying they won in the decision. What is he talking about?)
Cayetano, the sole politician who filed an SC appeal alongside broadcast networks, hailed the SC's order on Tuesday. He is one of Brillantes' harshest critics.
On his plan to resign, Brillantes said he has mellowed down a day after he talked about this. He said he spoke with his only child in the Philippines after getting some good sleep.
“Ikaw ang dumesisyon, ba't ako,” his child told Brillantes. (Make a decision yourself. I can't.)
Brillantes said he still considers resigning, and will consult his colleagues about it.
He also said he has contacted Palace insiders to set a meeting with President Benigno Aquino III, but has not received feedback so far. He added he has spoken with some friends in the SC, and told them he hopes the high court will resolve the airtime case on its merits.
He said his friends have advised him against resigning. (Watch Tuesday's interview with Brillantes below.)
Brillantes confessed he feels tired – "'yung pagod ka dahil sa inis" (feeling tired because you're fed up).
It was not the first time Brillantes threatened to resign. In August 2012, Brillantes said he might quit after the Department of Budget and Management slashed the Comelec's budget by P5.2 billion.
"Maraming nagsasabi, 'Ano ba yan, nagdadrama ka na naman? Ilang beses mo nang sinasabing magre-resign ka eh,'" Brillantes said. (A lot of people are asking, 'What's that? Drama? You've said several times you plan to resign.)
Brillantes, however, said he is considering to leave his post out of principle. "Huwag lang tayo ibitin." (Just don't leave us hanging.) – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.