Press Release
July 28, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today warned Malacañang against tinkering with the idea of using the automated counting machines (ACMs) acquired through the P1.3 billion contract with MegaPacific which had been voided by the Supreme Court for being fraudulent.

Pimentel said such ill-conceived plan would raise suspicion that the Palace is paving the way for whitewashing the ongoing investigation of the poll automation deal and for exonerating top officials of the Commission on Elections led by Chairman Benjamin Abalos.

This is another ploy of the administration to cover up for the misdeeds of the Comelec in the MegaPacific deal. It is a case of you rub my back, I rub yours, he said.

The minority leader said he could not see how the use of the 1,961 ACMs for the coming elections could be justified after the high tribunal had ruled that the MegaPacific suffered from severe infirmities and found that the machines did not conform with technical specifications under the Comelec bidding rules.

In fact, Pimentel said the Supreme Court has denied twice the request of the Comelec to use the ACMs for electoral exercises.

Besides, he said the Office of the Ombudsman had already come up with a similar ruling that the MegaPacific contract was anomalous. And on this basis, it recommended the impeachment of Elections Commissioner Resurreccion Borra.

By floating the possibility of using the ACMs in the 2007 polls, Pimentel said this shows the extent to which Malacañang would go to keep Chairman Abalos off the hook despite the gravity of his wrongdoing.

Malacañang or whoever thought of it knows that allowing Comelec officials to be charged criminally would create more problems for Gloria, he said.

If the ploy proceeds, then, it will in effect cover up for the illegality of the acquisition of those machines.

Pimentel said the ACMs could be used for the coming polls only if the Supreme Court and Ombudsman will reverse their ruling that the MegaPacific deal was rotten. But he said this is wishful thinking because their ruling on the case was based on solid evidence.

He also warned that the plan to use the ACMs would only endanger the integrity and credibility of the electoral process.

Illegally acquired machines cannot be used without tainting the election process in which they are used and the users should be sued along with those who acquired the machines in the first place.

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