Comelec eyes No. 13 as Senator Santiago’s replacement
MANILA, Philippines—Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Friday said the poll body was open to proclaiming a 13th senator in next year’s midterm polls should Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago resign anytime before election day to take up her post as International Criminal Court (ICC) judge.
This was after Santiago said she could not give the assurance that she would resign from the upper chamber before the filing of the certificates of candidacy in October this year or before the final configuration of the voting machines in January next year.
In a television interview, Brillantes said he and the other commissioners were considering the proclamation of a 13th winning senator to replace Santiago even if the voters would be choosing only 12 candidates.
“We are already discussing the possibility that we will require the shading of only 12 [senatorial candidates on the ballot] but we will proclaim 13. We (Comelec) can just come out with a resolution proclaiming a 13th winner,” Brillantes said.
However, Brillantes said the Senate must first declare a vacancy in the post left by Santiago in order for the 13th winner to be proclaimed her replacement.
Brillantes clarified that the Comelec was not pressuring Santiago to quit. He said the poll body was only after “convenience” before the January’s configuration of the precinct count optical scan machines so that these could record votes for 13 candidates instead of 12.
“It’s her prerogative [not to resign] because she was really elected for six years. It’s her decision to leave or not to leave within the six year period,” the chair added.
Santiago earlier said she was not yet needed at the ICC because there were still several judges who, although their terms have expired, were still required to remain until they finish pending cases or appeals.