Brillantes at a loss after SC order on party-lists

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 05 2013 03:12 PM | Updated as of Jun 05 2013 11:12 PM

MANILA - Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes is at a loss on what to do next after the Supreme Court issued a status quo ante order against the disqualification of Senior Citizens and Abang Likod party-list groups, both of which garnered enough votes for seats in the 16th Congress.

Brillantes said he has not read the ruling of the court.

"Di ko alam kung ano nakalagay. I cannot interpret something I haven't seen yet interpretation ng (SQAO) ibig sabihin di sila disqualified. They can probably sit if they will resolve merits immediately. Mare-resolve na. I know the others may additional paragraphs, di simple (SQAO). I've to see whether additional really there. Based on what I know, pag-uusapan namin. Malabo, hindi clear. Unless I read entire order, hanging pa rin,” he said.

Brillantes said he may make an announcement on the matter tomorrow after he has had a chance to further study the Supreme Court order.

The Supreme Court (SC), in its special en banc session on Wednesday, did not ratify the controversial temporary restraining order (TRO) earlier issued by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on the case of party-list group Coalition of Senior Citizens (Senior Citizens) in the Philippines.

Instead of affirming Sereno's order, the high court issued a status quo ante order (SQAO) in favor of Senior Citizens, which directed respondent Commission on Elections (Comelec) to: (1) refrain from implementing its order on the final disqualification of the party-list group; (2) reserve the seats the party-list is entitled to based on the over 600,000 votes it obtained in the May polls; and (3) hold in abeyance Senior Citizens' proclamation as a winning party-list group until the final ruling on its petition based on merits.

Sereno's order became controversial after the Justice-in-charge of the Senior Citizens' case, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, formally questioned the issuance. De Castro said it was not what she recommended, stressing that what she recommended was to prevent the Comelec from implementing its resolution, dated May 10, which disqualified the said party-list with finality.

What Sereno issued was a TRO that prevented the poll body from further proclaiming winners in the party-list race, which halted the awarding of 5 remaining party-list seats.

The TRO Sereno issued was calendared for ratification in Tuesday's regular en banc session, but the magistrates failed to decide on the proper course of action and scheduled a special session on Wednesday.

Another party-list group, Abang Lingkod, also secured a SQAO from the high court. However, said SQAO does not include reserving a seat for Abang Lingkod.

Similar petitions filed by party-list groups Anad and Binhi failed to secure a SQAO. In these petitions, the Comelec was merely directed to file its comment within 10 days.

Final senatorial tallies

Meanwhile, Brillantes said the poll body will release Thursday the final tally of votes cast in the senatorial elections. "Lalabas na namin bukas. Pinagagawa ko na,” he said.

He said the tally will no longer include uncanvassed votes that will no longer alter the results of the election.

"I just signed a new resolution which says we can come out with final tally. Lahat na except for some uncanvassed which will no longer affect… the difference is more than uncanvassed. Gagalaw a few thousand pero di gagalaw ranking and votes,” he said.