Buckles down to work on first day as Comelec chief
MANILA, Philippines - Newly-appointed Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes has asked the public to give him a chance to clean up the electoral system, as he brushed aside the criticisms that were hurled his way days prior to his appointment.
“If I can do this for the next 5 years, lay down the ground work for clean, honest and peaceful elections, my career as an election lawyer is through. I will end it as a constitutional officer who has managed the elections,” he told Comelec employees during his first flag ceremony with them on Monday morning.
In a separate interview with reporters, Brillantes brushed off rumors he is an “operator”—which, in Filipino slang, has a negative connotation.
Some quarters fear he may not be an objective Comelec chief, having served popular clients such as former President Joseph Estrada and the Ampatuan family.
Brillantes, who resigned as poll lawyer following his appointment on Saturday, said: “Marami ang nakakakilala sa akin, and for the last 20 years, ako ho ang humahabol sa mga operator.”
Even former Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas II supposedly expressed reservations over his appointment. He allegedly voiced out his fears to President Aquino that Brillantes may favor Chiz Escudero or Vice-President Jejomar Binay in the 2016 elections.
This early, however, a militant group has already criticized Brillantes for meeting Roxas.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary-general Renato Reyes, Jr. said: “Why should a prospective Comelec appointee have to meet with Mar Roxas? And why would the president endorse such a meeting? Why is Roxas’ objection so huge, that no less than the President would ask the prosepective appointee to meet with the former senator?”
Reyes challenged him to prove himself amid questions of partiality.
“The biggest challenge he faces now is how to clean up the Comelec. This would be the main yardstick by which we can measure his performance, independence and integrity as a poll chair,” Reyes said.
Brillantes will serve until 2015. He said, however, that he will make sure that the country will finally have a successful and fully-automated elections by 2016.
He also said the Comelec should now buckle down to work since the ARMM elections is already near.
He said Comelec will study options whether the latter could be synchronized with the 2013 mid-term elections.
This is also precisely the reason why he had to come in immediately as Comelec chief.
Former Comelec chairman Jose Melo stepped down on Saturday, 2 weeks ahead of his intended resignation.
Brillantes explained Malacañang could not anymore appoint an ad interim official once Congress opens sessions. The sessions start today.