Sol Gen has 10 days to comment on abolish PET petition
By Dateline Philippines
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday directed the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to comment within 10 days on the petition filed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s election lawyer Romulo Macalintal to abolish the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
Macalintal asserted that the PET, which decides election-related cases involving the President and Vice President, was unconstitutional.
“In the case of Macalintal, the Solicitor General is being ordered to comment on the petition in its capacity as Solicitor General within 10 days,” Court administrator and SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said during a press briefing.
Solicitor General Alberto Agra, who is also the Justice secretary and member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), earlier told reporters that he does not agree with Macalintal’s view although he used to work with the latter. Agra served as Mrs. Arroyo’s lawyer during the impeachment proceeding in Congress in 2006.
The PET, which has been operating since 1957, is composed of all 15 justices of the High Court with the chief justice as the ex-officio chairman and the associate justices as members.
Although it has been operating for many years now, Macalintal noted that the SC promulgated the rules governing the tribunal only in 2005.
Under its Rules, PET provides for its membership where its head is called the “chairman” and the others are simply called members instead of being addressed as chief justice and associate justices of the High Court.
The PET chairman is authorized to appoint personnel and confidential employees of every member of the tribunal.
The rules also provide for a separate “administrative staff of the tribunal” with the appointment of a clerk of court and deputy clerk of court.
The petitioner claimed that the national government has allotted a budget of P55.971 million for PET’s operations this year.