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Senator: Comelec ‘blinded’ by automation


INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:33:00 06/25/2009

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Politics

MANILA, Philippines -- The Commission on Elections was so ?blinded? by its desire to automate the 2010 elections that it failed to detect the ?defects? and ?inabilities? in the bidding for the project, Senator Francis Escudero said.

Escudero made the statement on Thursday in response to Comelec Chairman Jose Melo?s insinuation that senators questioning the winning bidder for the P11.2-billion automation project were influenced by losing bidders.

The senator denied that he spoke with any of the losing firms.

?I think it is Comelec that is blinded by their desire to automate just for the sake of automating, which is why they overlooked and are continuing to look the other way even if the defects and inabilities are so glaring,? Escudero said in text message.

?We might just be moving from manual to automated cheating or worse, have a failure of election,? said the senator, who is reportedly eyeing the presidency in 2010.

But Senator Richard Gordon admitted that Felipe Cruz of FF Cruz construction approached him and Escudero during Tuesday ?s hearing the Senate committee on constitutional amendments on the Comelec?s poll automation. Escudero chairs the committee

?Noong nandun kami, sabing ganun, si Felipe Cruz lumapit sa akin at saka kay Chiz, ?Sir for the information of the senators, we were disqualified based on that authentication [At the hearing, Felipe Cruz approached me and Escudero and said, ??Sir for the information of the senators, we were disqualified based on that authentication?],? Gordon said.

In that hearing, Escudero said a key document submitted by the winning bidder, Smartmatic- Total Information Management, should have been authenticated by the Philippine consulate in Caracas, Venezuela, instead of by the Philippine embassy in Washington DC.

Gordon said the losing bidders also tried to talk to him even during the bidding process.

?They tried to talk to me? Even while the bid was being made, nilalapitan ako ng mga yan [They approached me],? he said.

?These guys from Venezuela, they tried to show me the elections in Venezuela and I said no I don?t want to go there. They were gonna pay for it, no I can pay my way, I don?t wanna go there?? he said.

The chairman of the Comelec bids committee, Ferdinand Rafanan, said on Wednesday that the signing of the contract between the poll body and Smartmatic-TIM would push through on Friday at the earliest, despite the questions raised.



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