Graft raps filed vs Smartmatic, Comelec execs

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:45:00 07/21/2010

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010, Graft & Corruption, Politics

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Computer Society (PCS) has filed a complaint with the Ombudsman against 17 officials of the Commission on Elections and the Smartmatic TIM Corp. for alleged “incompetence,” graft and unethical conduct in connection with the May 10 national elections.

The PCS, an organization of information technology professionals, said the officials had colluded and conspired to breach laws on automated elections and government procurement, among others.

About 30 million Filipinos used voting machines to choose their new officials in the country’s very first automated elections.

The elections also debuted the use of an automated canvassing system, which made the counting of votes faster and less vulnerable to tampering.

The PCS said the implementation of the automated election system by the Comelec and its supplier, Smartmatic TIM, was lacking in many aspects, which threw a cloud of doubt over the accuracy and integrity of the election results.

The PCS complaint, which was filed on June 29, was the first and the biggest complaint yet against the Comelec and its partners.

The Comelec officials facing criminal and administrative charges are: Comelec Chairman Jose Melo, and Commissioners Gregorio Larrazabal, Rene Sarmiento, Nicodemo Ferrer, Armando Velasco, Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph.

The complaint also included Comelec Executive Director Jose Tolentino and directors Ester Roxas and James Jimenez.

Also included on the list of respondents were members of the Comelec technical evaluation committee: Commission on Information and Communication Technology Chair Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua, Timothy Diaz de Rivera, and Dennis Villorente. Chua heads the Comelec Advisory Council.

On the side of Smartmatic TIM Corp., PCS said Smartmatic Asia president Cesar Flores and electoral systems manager Heider Garcia should be investigated along with their Filipino partners, Jose Mari Antunez and Nilo Cruz of TIM.

The complaint said the “respondents by their documented actions and/or negligence clearly committed illegal acts which caused irreparable damage to the government and ultimately to the Filipino people.”

The PCS case against the Comelec came as the poll body prepared to answer another case before the Ombudsman.

The Comelec recently submitted an internal report on the overpriced ballot secrecy folder deal to the Ombudsman, asking the agency to probe the deal.

The P690-million contract involved the supply and delivery of 1,815,000 pieces of 25-inch long ballot secrecy folders, priced at P380 each.

Law department chief Ferdinand Rafanan, who headed the internal panel, denied reports that he recommended the impeachment of the Comelec chair over the deal, which was rescinded.

The most drammatic success in our history as a young province was the recent May 14 election. Our Biliran voters in exercising their right to vote expressed their sentiments in a mature and valiant manner.

And so, the result of the latest election, contained a simple but very poweful message: " if you respect my peso....

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