Brillantes set to end suspense over job

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Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. is set to answer this question when he reveals on Monday his decision on whether or not he will stay on to oversee the second automated balloting on May 13.

In an interview with reporters, Brillantes said he would make a final decision on Monday even if he was not able to meet with President Aquino, who earlier urged him not to push through with his threat to resign over the successive unfavorable Supreme Court rulings against the Comelec.

“I can dispense with meeting with the President since the main reason for asking for a meeting was to ask him to appoint two new commissioners. And since the appointments have been made, I have no more reason to meet with [him],” said Brillantes.

He said his mulling over whether to quit was reinforced by the appointment of lawyers Al Parreño and Louie Tito Guia, who will take the seats left vacant by the retirement of Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco.

New commissioners

“There is no problem anymore since there are already six of them here [as commissioners in the poll agency]. Maybe I can take a rest already,” he said.

While Aquino has appealed to him not to quit, Brillantes said it was a decision that he had to make.

“It is not really necessary for him to issue an appeal to me. I know what I must do. But thank you,” he said.

Aside from meditating and “thinking hard,” the 73-year-old former election lawyer also talked to his children and relatives over the weekend about the matter.

Talk with daughters

“I had to talk to my daughters, who are the people behind me. They are the only ones I can trust,” he said. Brillantes has three daughters—the eldest lives in the United States, the middle daughter in London and the youngest lives with him.

He recalled that his children had vehemently opposed his decision to accept the job to head the Comelec. “They said I should not be here anymore since I’m already old.”

Adverse SC rulings

Last Tuesday, Brillantes threatened to resign after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on Comelec rules limiting airtime for political advertisements for the May 13 balloting.

It was the fourth unfavorable ruling that the Comelec received from the high tribunal in recent months.

Earlier, the SC also stopped the poll body from filing cases against Church officials in Bacolod City for their “Team Patay/Team Buhay” tarpaulin.

The high court also remanded the disqualification cases of at least 52 party-list groups to the Comelec as it decided to allow nonmarginalized sectors to participate in the party-list system elections.

A Malacañang spokesperson expressed confidence Brillantes would stay on in his post.

“We hope that the weekend has done wonders for Chairman Brillantes,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in a radio interview.

Dangers of a vacancy

She said Aquino had made his thoughts known on the dangers of a vacancy in the Comelec. “The President has stated that the election is fast approaching, and he would have a hard time finding a replacement if that happens,” said Valte.

Contacted by the Inquirer, Valte confirmed that neither the President nor Brillantes had scheduled a meeting.

Asked why, she said: “According to Chairman Brillantes, he wanted a meeting with the President in connection with the two vacant posts. Now that both have been filled, Brillantes said ‘no need.’”

Diplomatic post

Aquino wants Brillantes to stay on, urging him to “think more soberly and less emotionally” before making his decision.

Brillantes himself has told reporters that he wanted a diplomatic post in Eastern Europe should he decide to resign from the poll body.

“I will wait first to see the President, I’m planning to ask him if he can give me an ambassadorship, so I could rest because it is very tiring in the Comelec,” he had said, adding:

“That is really what I was asking for when he won the 2010 elections, I was asking for an ambassadorship, until [then Comelec chairman Jose] Melo resigned.”

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