Uncalled-for attacks on Brillantes

We observe that party-list groups disqualified by the Commission on Elections from participating in the May 2013 elections have been resorting to personal attacks directed at Commission on Elections Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. He has been variously accused of being on a rampage and/or needs to undergo psychiatric examination. These personal attacks are totally uncalled for.

First, a Comelec decision on party lists’ disqualification is a collegial act, not the position of Brillantes alone. Secondly, the personal attacks are impelled by the fallacy of argumentum ad hominem which, in the language of the late Dean Francisco Africa, writing in “The Art of Argumentation & Debate,” is committed “when the disputant befogs the issue, thus evading the arguments of his opponent, and instead directs his attacks at the character, personality or belief of his adversary.” And if the purpose of the personal attacks on Brillantes is to get people’s support, their authors commit the fallacy of argumentum ad populum which, again according to Dean Africa, is the fallacy committed “when the disputant evades the real question and appeals to the passions or prejudices of his hearers.”

It thus behooves the aggrieved party-list groups to argue the merits of their cases before the Supreme Court.



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