Group files graft charges vs. Brillantes, poll commissioners

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MEDIA group Alab ng Mamahayag (Alam) on Tuesday filed graft charges against Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes and his commissioners for violating a status quo order of the Supreme Court in the case involving party-list groups disqualified by the commission.

Alam national chairman Jerry Yap filed the complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman. Aside from Brillantes, those named in the charge sheet were Commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Lucenito Tagle, Armando Velasco, Elias Yusoph, Christian Robert Lim and Maria Garcia Cielo Padaca.

“Our disqualification despite the status quo order by the Supreme Court is a clear violation of [the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act],” Yap said.

The Comelec in October last year disqualified the group of press freedom advocates from participating in the May 2013 elections.

In November, Alam elevated the case before the High Court.

Yap said that the decision made by Brillantes and his colleagues is contrary to Comelec Resolution 9467, which outlines the rules in determining the order of party-lists in the official ballot.

A month before the May 2013 elections, the Supreme Court issued a status quo ante order but not mandatory injunctions in favor of 13 disqualified partylist groups, including Alam.

“The court remands to the Comelec all the present petitions for the Comelec to determine who are qualified to participate under the May 2013 elections under the new parameters prescribed,” the High Court said in its ruling.

The group claimed that the Comelec should answer the charges for “causing undue injury to through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”

As incumbent Constitutional commission officials, Brillantes and the commissioners are immune from criminal suit. They can only face charges before the proper court upon their resignation, retirement or removal from office.

But Alam national president Berteni Causing said that the graft complaint “must be given due course” because this could result in impeachment proceedings against Brillantes and the other poll officials.

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