MANILA - Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano clashed anew during a Senate committee hearing tackling electoral reforms on Tuesday.
Brillantes protested against being painted as a copy of former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, who was implicated in the alleged cheating during the 2004 presidential elections.
He said he was hurt by the contentions made by Cayetano during his interpellation last month of Senator Grace Poe's speech on the anniversary of the Hello Garci tapes.
Brillantes had served as election lawyer of Fernando Poe Jr. in 2004.
"Nakakabigla naman para masabi ho tayong Garci in disguise... Ang alam kong kakampi ni Garci si GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo), First Gentleman, yung mga pamilya ng mga taga-Taguig na tumakbong senador sa Lakas," he said.
"I apologize kung tinamaan ka, Mr. Chair, na sinabi mong Garci in sheep's skin. Because to tell you frankly and in your face, you are worse than Garci," Cayetano said.
Committee chairperson Koko Pimentel was forced to suspend the hearing twice as the word war became heated.
Cayetano asked Brillantes about the findings of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Comelec panel on the alleged cheating during the 2004 elections.
Brillantes said the panel's probe focused on the 2007 senatorial elections as it let the Senate handle the investigation on the 2004 polls.
"Let me put on the record that the answer of the chairman is wala and he is giving flimsy excuses," the senator said.
Brillantes then said, "Flimsy is a personal assessment of the senator. I respect that. But I don't respect the lies that have been said in the interpellation."
In the next round, Brillantes was asked why Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) regional director Ray Sumalipao is still on active duty despite being tagged as one of the so-called Garci boys.
Brillantes said he was not responsible for Sumalipao's promotion, but he only has good words for the Comelec's ARMM regional director.
No one was charged in connection with the 2004 polls as election offenses prescribe 5 years after the date of their commission.
The committee also heard proposals to extend the prescriptive period.