Who is a bigger violator of Comelec laws?

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

Last week when we learned from Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes that some 442 elected officials who purportedly won in the May 2013 elections were asked to vacate their posts because they failed to file their Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) to the Comelec… one would think that the Comelec Chairman was merely following the laws governing the Comelec.

If I did not immediately make a comment on this issue, it is simply because I strongly believe that those seeking elective positions who are persons of authority should never be the violators of any law. Comelec Laws are part and parcel of the laws of the Philippines. So whether you are a famous celebrity like former President now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo or Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto, it really doesn’t matter who you are for we staunchly believe in that legal dictum, “Ignorance of the law excuses no one!”

With that said, what I found very disturbing in this scenario is that while the Comelec Chairman is trying to show to the nation that he is the paragon of truth and proper conduct, unfortunately he himself is perhaps the biggest violator of the very Comelec Laws that he has sworn to uphold.

I just got hold of a copy of a case filed by the Tanggulang Demokrasya, Inc. and the Bagumbayan Movement against Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, et al for violations of Section 35 of R.A. 8436, otherwise known as the Automated Election Law, in relation to Sections 261 and 262 of Batas Pambansa Blg 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code.

I don’t have enough space in this column to cover all the legal details, but I recall that one of these violations had something to do with the source code, which the Comelec Chairman withheld until the last minute, thus there was no longer any physical time to check and verify its contents.

I would like to believe that through that source code, the mysterious 60% for the Liberal Party candidates, 30% for UNA candidates and 10% for those who do not belong to the majority and minority parties was uncovered by Ateneo Professor Alex Muga. The message for the Filipino people is, if Chairman Brillantes is nitpicking on those candidates who failed to present their SOCE for violation of minute laws, in reality Chairman Brillantes is the biggest violator of Comelec laws. There is another legal dictum I would like to present to our readers, “He who comes to court must come with clean hands” and I dare say that the hands of Mr. Brillantes are soiled and dirty!

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Today is the 72nd anniversary of the sinking of the S.S. Corregidor which sank off the island of Corregidor. The S.S. Corregidor started life as the HMS Engadine, a Seaplane Tender in the Royal Navy which participated in the famous Battle of Jutland in World War I. After the war, she was later bought and transformed into a commercial liner and eventually bought by the Compania Maritima. She had the distinction of being the fastest liner in the Orient.

On that fateful night 72 years ago, my father’s only brother, Benjamin Avila, one of La Salle University’s star athletes, a champion in track and field, swimming and member of the basketball team was in La Salle University bringing with him the Basketball Team of the University of Southern Philippines (USP) for a friendly match. The S.S. Corregidor was the last vessel to leave the Port of Manila for Cebu then off to Australia.

Actually the vessel already left the Port of Manila (the port then was at the mouth of the Pasig River near the Escolta) when my uncle arrived, the ship had already left the port. But a Manila Harbor Pilot recognized him and offered his tug to catch up with the S.S. Corregidor and caught up with it as the vessel was out of the Pasig River. Another uncle, Mr. Salvador Segura, my mother’s brother who came from his studies in Los Baños, Laguna missed the boat because of two flat tires. He is still alive today.

What happened to the S.S. Corregidor and why it struck a mine has never been explained. All ship captains were given maps on avoiding the mines that the American Navy placed in Manila Bay. When she struck the mine, the ship literally broke in two. One of my uncle’s classmates, Doc Alviola (he was our family dentist, who gave me most of the accounts of the sinking when I was still a little boy) told me that Tio Bing Bing who was an expert swimmer was about to jump out into the sea when he heard screams of women inside the cabins. He dashed into one of those cabins, while Doc Alviola jumped out from the sinking ship. That was the last time he saw my uncle alive. By morning on Dec. 18, Gen. Douglas MacArthur ordered PT-Boats no. 32, 34 and 35 to search for survivors. All told, these three PT Boats collected 282 survivors and around 1,700 perished in this maritime disaster were many Filipinos lost their lives.

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