OSG opposes petition to abolish PET
By Edu Punay
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – The government opposed yesterday a petition of President Arroyo’s election lawyer for the Supreme Court to abolish the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
Acting Solicitor General Alberto Agra said the SC had already resolved the issues raised in lawyer Romulo Macalintal’s petition.
“The Presidential Electoral Tribunal is not inferior to the Supreme Court since it is the same court, although the functions peculiar to said tribunal are more limited in scope than those of the Supreme Court in the exercise of its ordinary functions,” he said, quoting the SC ruling in Lopez vs. Roxas.
Agra, concurrent acting justice secretary, said there is nothing illegal in designating SC justices to the PET.
In his petition last April 5, Macalintal asked the SC to declare that the creation of PET violated the Constitution.
“The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election returns and qualifications of the president or vice president, and may promulgate its rules for the purpose,” he said, quoting the Constitution.
Macalintal said the SC erred in creating the PET since it is not authorized by the Constitution to create another tribunal performing a quasi-judicial function and operating under a separate budgetary allocation, with a new seal, a new set of personnel and confidential employees.
“The members of the Supreme Court and other courts established by law shall not be designated to any agency performing quasi-judicial or administrative functions,” he said, again quoting the Constitution.
Macalintal said the SC had already declared in the case of Buac vs. Commission on Elections on Jan. 26, 2004 that the PET has quasi-judicial powers.
Sitting in the PET gives SC justices dual positions in government, which they themselves strongly opposed in their recent ruling in the case of former Transportation undersecretary Ma. Elena Bautista, he added.