Did PNoy pressure SolGen to back SET?


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MANILA - Did President Aquino pressure Solicitor General Florin Hilbay to back the Senate Electoral Tribunal in the case of the disqualification of presidential aspirant Grace Poe?

"Sa tingin ko wala," said former Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes, noting that Solicitor General Florin Hilbay is a very intelligent lawyer.

Brillantes said Hilbay's position is to "protect his client", which in this case is the Senate Electoral Tribunal. The SET majority earlier ruled that Poe is a natural-born Filipino and is thus qualified to run for president in 2016.

This runs counter to the Commission on Elections' ruling that Poe cannot run for president because she lacked the 10-year residency requirement and is not a natural born Filipino

The Solicitor General earlier wrote to the Commission on Elections, saying he cannot represent the Comelec before the Supreme Court since his position is opposite that of the poll body.

READ: Comelec loses SolGen backing in Poe case

Brillantes, a former poll chief, said it was not the first time that the SolGen did not side with Comelec on an issue.

"That really happens. When I was in the Comelec, there are times when SolGen said our position is opposite yours so kayo na ang bahala," he said.

He said the Comelec can tap its own law department to represent the poll body in the oral arguments before the Supreme Court later this month.

Brillantes said Comelec Chairman Andy Bautista and Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim cannot represent the poll body before the SC since they are in the minority in the disqualification cases against Poe.

"It has to be one of the commissioners who sided with the majority or delegate it to the Comelec law department to appear for the Comelec itself. The SolGen will appear in favor of the Senate Electoral Tribunal," he said.

He also noted that Comelec cannot tap an outside lawyer to represent them in the case "because they have no budget for that."

The Comelec en banc earlier voted 7-0 that Poe is not a natural-born Filipino. The commission also voted 5-2 that Poe does not meet the ten-year residency requirement.

READ: How they voted: Comelec sustains Poe disqualification