SC says ‘noted’ to Comelec request to retrieve evidence in poll fraud cases
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, has decided simply “to note” the request Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. to retrieve documents in the electoral protests of Sen. Loren Legarda and the late Fernando Poe, Jr. for the joint Comelec-Department of Justice investigation into alleged fraud in the 2004 and 2007 elections.
“The Tribunal resolved to note the letter dated August 3, 2011 of Honorable Sixto Brillantes, Jr., Chairperson, Commission on Elections, requesting access to the records and authority to obtain certified true copies of any pleadings, affidavits, or election documents relative to this electoral protest case, or if, possible, to have temporary custody of the same,” the PET said in a terse resolution dated August 9.
An official of the judiciary, who asked not to be identified by name, said resolving “to note” usually means the court cannot yet decide on a request, motion, or petition.
Brillantes, Legarda, and her lawyer Antonio Paredes, Jr. separately wrote the PET to ask for certified true copies of the records and evidence that had been submitted in the senator’s electoral protest against then Vice President Noli de Castro, who beat her in the vice presidential race in 2004.
Brillantes was also Legarda’s lawyer in her protest as well as of the late Fernando Poe Jr. in his electoral protest against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is now a member of the House of Representatives.
In a phone interview, Brillantes told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that his request to retrieve the election protest documents was in relation to the upcoming Comelec-DOJ electoral fraud investigation.
“There were several [pieces of] evidence that we submitted to the PET. When I prosecuted for Loren I presented many documents. I think a lot of the copies were burned in the Comelec fire in 2007… because the original copies had been returned to their respective custodians such as the Comelec. That’s why we need the certified true copies (from the PET),” Brillantes said.
Brillantes was surprised to hear that the PET’s resolution said it had resolved simply “to note” their requests.
“Yun lang [That’s all]? Well, we are asking them if they could allow us to retrieve the pertinent documents for the investigation,” Brillantes said.
A joint Comelec-DoJ order is set to be released on Monday by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima that would officially begin the Comelec-DoJ investigation into allegations that the 2004 presidential elections and 2007 national and local elections were fraught with cheating.
Both de Lima and Brillantes were among the country’s top election lawyers before they joined the government and served as counsel for several candidates who were identified with the opposition during the Arroyo administration.
They had said, however, that the joint investigation panel could determine the culpability only of those who carried out the election fraud and will file criminal charges against them in court.
Should the investigation determine that Poe and Legarda had won, the committee could not proclaim them as winners because it was not within its mandate. Besides the terms in question have already expired and Poe has passed away, De Lima said.