IN a clear reprimand to Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno, Supreme Court justices on Wednesday voted to revoke the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) she issued stopping the proclamation of party-list candidates.
At the special en banc deliberations, the justices were unanimous in their decision to invalidate the TRO. The court instead issued a Status Quo Ante Order (SQAO) for the Senior Citizen’s Party-list which had gone before the tribunal after it was disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The SQAO was in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro, the appointed ponencia in the case. Sereno had changed the ruling and issued a TRO without informing the other justices.
A well-placed source in the court said the magistrates were one in saying that the Chief Justice had no power to issue a TRO on her own.
But while the Tribunal has nullified the order barring the poll body from proclaiming the remaining party-list winners, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the commission does not know what to do because of the complexity of the court’s rulings.
In a press briefing, Theodore Te, Supreme Court Public Information Office chief, said the SQAO superseded the Sereno TRO. It stops the Comelec from implementing its order disqualifying the Senior Citizens’ group, reserve the seats the party-list is entitled to based on the more than 600,000 votes it obtained in the May elections and hold in abeyance the group’s proclamation until there is a final ruling on its petition.
The court also stopped the Comelec from disqualifying the Abang Lingkod party-list. However, it did not issue a SQAO order for two more party-lists—Anad and Binhi. In these petitions, the poll body was merely directed to file its comment within 10 days.
At a loss
Confronted with these orders, Brillantes said he is unsure what the commission should do now.
“The commission en banc will really have to discuss it first. It is unclear unless we can read the entire order,” the poll chief said. “It was already read to me but I still cannot understand the decision. I believe it is unclear [what we should do next],” he said.
The commission had already proclaimed 38 party-list groups, entitling them to 53 seats in the incoming 16th Congress. Five more seats have to be filled.
Senior Citizens got 677,642 votes, good for two seats in Congress. Abang Lingkod had 260,215 votes, entitling it to one seat.