MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) cannot investigate President Benigno Aquino III for his alleged use of government resources during one of the Liberal Party’s (LP)campaign sorties because he still has immunity, Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said Thursday.
Several labor groups had filed before the Comelec a letter-complaint Wednesday urging the poll body to investigate an incident last February 14 in which LP local government officials allegedly distributed PhilHealth cards and three kilos of rice to indigent residents in Bohol.
The incident had taken place some 200 meters from a motorcade of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), according to the three-page letter of Anakpawis partylist, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), and Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).
“The distribution should have been done several months ahead of the election period that officially started last February 12,” the groups said. “The distribution of such medical assistance should have been done by public health officials on ordinary days and not by the president and his allies currently on the campaign trail.”
Brillantes, in an interview over Radyo Inquirer 990AM, said, “Hindi naman natin pwede imbestigahan eh may immunity ang president (We cannot launch an investigation because the President enjoys immunity).”
He further said that the distribution of PhilHealth cards should not by suspended just because it was the election period and that it was for the benefit of the public.
“These are not actually forms of campaigning, hindi naman dapat itigil ng executive [department] everything it’s doing just because of the forthcoming elections,” he said.
Brillantes said that it was fine “unless it is directly related to the campaign. It’s also not right to question why it is being given [or that] it should have been given before or … after the election.”
The groups urged Comelec to “admonish, warn, insist” that Aquino stop leading the campaign of the administration. Brillantes however said that it is not illegal for an incumbent president to support his party in the election.