• Comelec keeps distance from TRO tussle

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    The chief of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday said they will not get involved in the controversial issuance of the “erroneous” temporary restraining order (TRO) by the Supreme Court (SC) halting the poll body to further proclaim the last batch of winning party-list groups.

    Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said they shall maintain distance from the issue but will focus instead on the official ruling from the High Court.

    “We are under no obligation to join them [Wala naman kaming obligasyon na makisali sa kanila]. So we have to respect whatever [is the official release]. . . we will go by the official releases,” the poll chief said.

    “We cannot interfere what is happening inside the Supreme Court,” he added.

    On Thursday, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno has been criticized by her colleagues for issuing an “erroneous” TRO that prohibits the poll body from proclaiming winning party-list groups.

    On the condition of anonymity, several magistrates of the High Court who spoke with The Manila Times in separate interviews assailed the TRO and vowed to question it when the en banc session resumes on June 4.

    They said Sereno tampered with the original draft of Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, the ponente. She then released the order without consulting the en banc.

    In the original draft of De Castro, the TRO was limited only to the granting of relief to the petitioner, the Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens in the Philippines, which was disqualified by the Comelec.

    Despite its disqualification, the group got nearly 700,000 votes, which qualifies it to two seats in the House of Representatives.

    In a three-page resolution issued by Sereno on May 29, the High Court ordered the poll body not to proclaim the remaining party-list groups vying for the remaining five slots in Congress.

    The Comelec, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBoC), immediately complied with the TRO but continued canvassing the remaining votes.

    Earlier, the commission already proclaimed 38 groups that are entitled to a total of 53 party-list seats in the incoming 16th Congress.

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