MANILA, Philippines - Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes must put closure to the "Hello, Garci" wiretapping scandal or make way for a new chairman that can do the job, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said Friday.
In a statement, Cayetano said Brillantes had done nothing about the wiretapping scandal since his appointment earlier this year. Even worse, he said the Comelec chief has also not investigated so-called "Garci boys" inside the poll body.
“He should do something or be replaced. But right now, he is not doing anything. He is just happy being there. He is announcing reform to the media but upon closer inspection of alleged reforms and investigations, he can show nothing,” he said.
The "Hello, Garci" scandal pertains to wiretapped conversations that allegedly reveal a plot by then President Arroyo to rig the 2004 presidential election. Arroyo publicly admitted speaking to a poll commissioner during the May 2004 election but denied rigging the poll.
Brillantes earlier said he should not be held accountable for the continued presence – and promotion – of the so-called “Garci boys,” or those allied with former Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, in the Comelec.
“Bakit daw na-promote? Malay ko. Panahon pa yata ni acting Chairman (Resurreccion) Borra. Ano gagawin ko? Andyan na siya e. Wala namang ginagawa. Ano gusto nila? Tanggalin ko dahil sa assumption na Garci boy siya?” the Comelec chief said.
He said nobody would be relieved from their posts without due process.
Among those tagged as Garci boys were Rey Sumalipao, regional director in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; Renato Magbutay, Northern Mindanao regional director; Francisco Pobe, Caraga acting assistant regional director; Renault Macarambon, Election and Barangay Affairs Department assistant director; Teopisto Elnas Jr., Election and Barangay Affairs Department director; and Cirilo Nala Jr., Surigao del Sur provincial election supervisor.
Cayetano, meanwhile, said he doubted Comelec's move to search for new technology for the 2013 elections.
“With Chaiman Brillantes as head of the Comelec, with him being declared by non-government organizations (NGOs) and media groups as an ‘operator’ due to his refusal to investigate ‘Hello Garci’ and remove the alleged ‘Garci boys’ from the commission, are we confident that to say that nothing ‘anomalous’ will happen once he introduces this new technology?” he said.
“Let me ring some alarm bells. I hope the election watchdogs and NGOs will join me in saying that it is possible for a ‘Return of the Operators’ to occur in 2013. This time, they will me more high tech, or they will do it not manually but they will do it digitally, or they will do an automated cheating,” he added.
Cayetano lamented the similarity of the chairman’s actions to the state of the commission that enabled the enactment of the Hello Garci scandal.
“Because no one investigated into the background of Chairman Garcillano and no one monitored his actions, we just woke up with the Hello Garci scandal,” he said. With a report from the Philippine Star