Who is Chairman Brillantes protecting?

Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano expressed his disappointment over Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes’s continued failure to take concrete steps that would lead to the prosecution of named erring Comelec officials implicated in various scams in the agency.

He manifested his dismay during his third confirmation hearing in the Commission on Appointments (CA) on determining that the officials implicated in the Hello Garci scandal and the P690-million folder scam were still allowed to occupy sensitive positions in the Comelec.

“How can you say that, as chairman, you are going to reform the Comelec when you refuse to look at all the major scams that took place and are taking place within your agency?” he asked the chairman during the CA hearing.

The senator said Brillantes cannot invoke the fact that the cases like the Hello Garci Scandal and the Folder Scam happened before his appointment as alibi for his continued inaction.

“You cannot just give answers like ‘tapos na yan’ or ‘wala pa ako niyan’ to excuse your inaction. If you want to really reform the Comelec, shouldn’t you start cleaning up its name by removing the ‘bad eggs’ whom you claimed to know?” said Cayetano referring to the Chairman’s earlier claim that he knows the election “operators” in Comelec.

The minority leader also questioned Comelec’s decision to appoint people who have been suspended for involvement in election-related scandals to key positions in the agency.

He cited Comelec’s recent reshuffling of officials that resulted in the designation of Atty. Allen Abaya to a position in the agency’s law department, whose role is crucial in the investigation of the scandals, despite being implicated in the P690-million Folder Scam.

Abaya was suspended for 6 months by the Ombudsman days after his assignment to the law department.

“Why would you put people who have been implicated in corruption scams in key positions? Does this show that there is really no other person in Comelec fit for such a job?” he asked.

“So far Chairman Brillantes has been speaking as if he is the lawyer of these people,” he lamented.

Cayetano said he is willing to endorse Brillantes’ nomination if the latter would only show his zeal in investigating the scams and going after culprits.