Santiago asked: When will you quit?
Comelec pressed for time, wants early decision by senatorBy Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. hopes Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago will decide whether or not to resign her position before the end of the year so he can finalize the number of senatorial slots that will be up for grabs in next year’s midterm poll.
Brillantes, in an interview, said it would be better if Santiago quit before the deadline of the filing of the certificates of candidacy in October so that Comelec could open a 13th slot for senator in the May 2013 elections and reconfigure the electronic counting machines.
The Precinct Count Optical Scan machines need to be reconfigured, he explained. “We have to dictate how many (circles) the people will have to shade because if you shade 13 when you’re supposed to shade only 12, your vote will be nullified. That’s why it’s important that we know whether it’s 12 or 13 in the configuration,” Brillantes said.
Should Santiago resign, the Comelec chief said the senatorial candidate who would place 13th in the elections next year would serve the remainder of Santiago’s term until 2016.
“My appeal to her is…I think she should resign before October 5 so by that time we will know whether or not we will say, ‘shade 13’ or ‘shade 12’ on the ballot,” he told reporters.
Senator Santiago was elected earlier this year as a judge of the 18-member International Criminal Court based in The Hague, Netherlands. She had postponed taking her oath.
“I’ll just call her and talk to her; anyway, she’s my friend. She said she will write and I’m still waiting for her letter. There’s no letter yet so I’ll just call her,” Brillantes said.
The Comelec chief said Santiago could also opt to resign by December this year, when the configuration of Precinct Count Optical Scan machines would be finalized.
“She can still resign until December because we will do the configuration of the machines by January,” he said.
Otherwise, if there’s a vacancy, the Senate must pass a resolution and then call for a special election for the remaining three years. But if Santiago leaves for The Hague early, the vacancy can be included in the May elections next year, Brillantes said.
In a previous interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Santiago said she could not tell for sure when she would join the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
She said the matter would depend on when the position would become vacant, citing an ICC policy that a sitting judge would have to finish all his cases even after his term has already expired.
Santiago said the ICC had asked her and other incoming judges to stay put in the meantime. She said she would likely stay at the Senate for the remainder of the year. With a report from Christian Esguerra