MANILA, Philippines - The legal counsel of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo has asked for the resignation of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., claiming his recent statements only show the agency could be a tool for vendetta against political opponents.
Lawyer Innocencio Ferrer said Brillantes has already prejudged his clients even before an investigation could begin. He cited Brillantes’ comments the Arroyos will be in jail before Christmas.
“Brillantes should resign because his public announcement of the guilt of the Arroyos and his statement that the Arroyos will spend Christmas in jail before any complaint has been filed and prior to a trial on the merits have clearly shown Brillantes' bias, prejudgment, clear conflict of interest as lawyer of the opponents of [former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo] in 2004.”
Ferrer is referring to Brillantes’ stint as election lawyer for Fernando Poe Jr. in 2004 and for the Genuine Opposition Senatorial Slate in 2007.
Ferrer also pointed out Brillantes’ comments virtually preempted other Comelec commissioners from conducting a more impartial probe.
He reminded Brillantes that as chairman of an independent constitutional body tasked with hearing cases involving election offenses, Brillantes must not make such statements. He said Brillantes must act on cases with the "cold neutrality of an impartial judge,” noting he should shield the Comelec from pressures even coming from the authority who appointed him.
Ferrer already earlier called for Brillantes to inhibit from the investigation after Brillantes claimed Poe was the real winner in the 2004 elections.
He also accused Brillantes of being unethical, since he was also the election lawyer of the Ampatuans, who are the principals of Norie Unas. The latter claimed he heard Arroyo order the rigging of the 2007 elections.
“Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu was quoted yesterday…that Brillantes was the election lawyer of the Ampatuans. By law, Code of Ethical Standards of Public Oficials and delicadeza, Brillantes must inhibit & disqualify himself directly or indirectly from even touching any election complaint versus the Arroyos,” he added.
He said Brillantes’ statements only show Comelec can be used as a political tool against political opponents.
“Brillantes must stop acting as a private law practitioner for his numerous past election clients. Brillantes placed the integrity of the institution of Comelec under a cloud of doubt…”
The former president’s legal spokesperson also echoed Ferrer’s call.
Lawyer Raul Lambino said, “Chairman Brillantes’ statements are brazen and blatant disregard of due process and the rule of law by preempting the outcome of investigation of the joint DOJ-Comelec panel…”
“Brillantes is hard-pressed to accord credibility to Unas, who is a principal suspect in the dreadful Maguindanao massacre and and massive corruption. Brillantes and [Justice Secretary Leila de Lima] are showing their expertise of winning cases by publicity,” he added.