MANILA, Philippines - Was it a sympathy restraining order? This joke circulated yesterday as it was noted that 13 of the 15 justices of the Supreme Court (SC) are senior citizens themselves.
The Supreme Court ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to hold the proclamation of the remaining party-list groups, favoring a petition of the Senior Citizens group.
Senior citizen Sixto Brillantes Jr., who chairs the Comelec, said he did not vote for the group in the recent midterm elections.
“It should not be misconstrued. They are not the only ones representing the elderly,” he said.
Among the senior citizens in the SC is Associate Justice Roberto Abad, who is retiring from the judiciary when he turns 70 on May 22 next year.
Associate Justice Martin Villarama is 67, while Associate Justices Arturo Brion and Jose Perez are 66.
Associate Justices Jose Mendoza and Bienvenido Reyes are 65, while Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and Presbitero Velasco Jr. are 64.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the most senior in appointment to the high court, is 63 years old, like Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin and Mariano del Castillo.
Associate Justices Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Diosdado Peralta are 61.
Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen are the youngest members of the high court at 52 and 50, respectively.
In its order, the SC took note of the 600,000 votes garnered by the Senior Citizens group in the May 13 elections.
The Senior Citizens party-list aims to inform and assist senior citizens of their rights and benefits under the law. The group also seeks to sponsor and implement projects geared toward the enhancement of the general welfare of senior citizens, including the development and improvement of their physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being, and provide forums on health, retirement, financial planning, livelihood, human relations, medical and legal advisory.
The group also encourages fellowship and social bonding among members.
Brillantes said the Comelec disqualified the group because it violated the rules and not because the poll body is not supportive of the cause of senior citizens.
The group was delisted after its nominees split into two factions and forged a term-sharing agreement for the two seats it won in the 2010 elections. – Edu Punay, Mayen Jaymalin