Philippine Election Chief Threatens to Quit After Court Rulings

The chairman of the Philippines’ election body, Sixto Brillantes, said he’s thinking of quitting after the Supreme Court ruled against the agency for a fourth time under his watch and a month before polls.

“I’m very disappointed,” Brillantes told reporters in Manila after judges today stopped the Commission on Elections from enforcing an order limiting airtime for political advertisements. “It looks like they’re the ones running the elections, not us.”

His comments come before the nation votes for half of the 24-member Senate, the whole of the House of Representatives and all local positions on May 13. Brillantes, an election lawyer, was appointed by President Benigno Aquino in January 2011.

“It looks like Brillantes is angered by the fact that the court seems out to frustrate election reforms he has started,” Benito Lim, a political science professor at the Ateneo de Manila, said in a telephone interview.

In July, Brillantes threatened to resign after the budget department cut the agency’s 2013 appropriation by 5 billion pesos ($121 million). He later apologized for making the threat, according to a Philippine Star report.

The apex court issued an order restraining the election agency from limiting airtime of national candidates to 120 minutes for television and 180 minutes for radio, spokesman Theodore Te said in a mobile-phone message today. The order also covers local candidates whose airtime has been capped to 60 and 90 minutes, respectively.

The election body in a Jan. 15 order said the Fair Election Act empowers it to regulate political ads to “give candidates equal opportunities under equal circumstances.”

Among other steps, the court had also stopped Brillantes from removing posters criticizing candidates who voted for a condom law.

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