Jun 102013
Various poll watchdogs on Monday filed with the Office of the Ombudsman a complaint against 11 former and current Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials for allegedly “placing in grave peril the sanctity of the ballot” during the May 2010 and 2013 elections.

The accused officials are former Comelec chairperson Jose Melo, former commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Nicodemo Ferrer, Armando Velasco and Leonardo Leonida.

The other respondents in the complaint are Director Jose Tolentino and Bartolome Sinocruz Jr.; Melo consultant Renato Garcia; Technical Evaluation Committee chairperson Denis Villorente and the committee members Ferdinand De Leon and Reynaldo Sy.

Officials of Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp., the provider of the ballot-reading precinct count optical scan machines, were implicated, as well, including Smartmatic Asia president Cesar Flores.

“This citizen’s action… being filed to hold into account public officers at the COMELEC who, in collusion with local and foreign business interests, placed in grave peril the sanctity of the ballot in the Philippines by approving the use of a highly-suspect… PCOS [machine] in,the [2010 and 2013] elections,” according to the complainants’ statement.

The complainants are: former vice president Teofisto Guingona Jr., Automated Elections System Watch co-convenor Fr. Jose Dizon, NBN-ZTE deal whistleblower Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada Jr., Workers’ Electoral Watch convenor Anna Leah Escresa-Colina, Gregorio Fabros of Kontra Daya, Center for People Empowerment in Governance executive director Evita Jimenez, and a certain Hector Barrios.

Among the alleged violations committed by the Comelec and Smartmatic were:

– Contract with Smartmatic pushed through despite the fact that Smartmatic’s license agreement with PCOS technology owner Dominion Voting Systems has expired

– No pilot testing of PCOS machine was conducted as mandated by law

– Source code was not open for review

– Comelec failed to ensure that Smartmatic placed the required telecommunication facilities to support PCOS transmissions for the May 2010 elections

– Comelec and Smartmatic failed to ensure the accuracy of the PCOS machines

For their part, Smartmatic Asia president Cesar Flores said the complainants had earlier brought these “slanderous accusations” to the SC twice, and they were rejected.

“In both cases, the Supreme Court denied their allegations and held the contract as valid and compliant with the laws,” Flores said in a text message.

Meanwhile, poll commissioner Lucenito Tagle said it is the group’s “prerogative if they want to file cases.” “Whether it will prosper is another thing,” he added in a text message. — DVM, GMA News

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