MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday said that the poll body had filed a complaint calling for an “expropriation” or temporary use of the warehouse in a town in Laguna where the machines for next year’s elections were stored.
Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, chairperson of the poll body’s ad hoc campaign finance steering committee, told reporters that it had filed the complaint to a court in Biñan, Laguna Wednesday and that the case would be raffled Thursday.
“Gusto naming malaman (We want to know), we’re asking for the order to be issued that we will be placed in possession (of the warehouse)…It’s called expropriation,” Lim said.
Under Philippine law, expropriation is defined as “the act of taking of privately owned property by a government to be used for the benefit of the public.”
The poll body had earlier sent police officers to secure the warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna after it had a disagreement with the warehouse’s owners. The Precinct Count Optical Scan Machines (PCOS) machines, assembly lines, configuration assembly, and other equipment to be used for the May 2013 elections are currently housed in the place.
Poll chief Sixto Brillantes Jr., who visited the warehouse last Friday, had earlier noted that there were heightened tensions following disagreements with the owners of the warehouse. He had said that the owners pushed for a three-year contract but the Comelec had argued that it would make use of the warehouse only until June next year.
Lim, in the interview, also noted that the poll body wanted temporary use of the warehouse until June 30, 2013.
Lim added that they had also deposited the lease for seven months, which amounted to P44.8 million.
During the 2010 elections, the Cabuyao plant was initially rented by PCOS supplier Smartmatic-Total Information Management consortium. The Comelec, however, took over its management after it bought from Smartmatic the 82,000 PCOS machines for P1.8 billion.
The Comelec had also decided to negotiate with the owners of the warehouse to extend the storage of PCOS until June 2013.