Press Release
August 12, 2006


Mr. President, this will be a brief statement that is prompted by the fact that I could sense that there is a mega press drive flooding our newspapers, radio and television about the need to use the voting machines that were acquired under an invalidated contract by the Supreme Court.

I have issued a number of statements, but they never saw the light of day. Apparently, something is working behind the scenes, as it were, on this issue.

For purpose of clearer understanding of what this is all about, let me just briefly state that on October 29, 2002, the Comelec adopted Resolution No. 02-0170 for the modernization of the 2004 elections. Then in January 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, through Executive Order No. 172 and other issuances, authorized the release of P3 billion of the Comelec fund for the modernization program for the elections in 2004.

On April 15, 2003, the Comelec, in an en banc resolution signed by Chairman Benjamin S. Abalos, Commissioners Rufino S.B. Javier, Luzviminda G. Tancangco, Ralph C. Lantion, Mejol K. Sadain, Resurreccion C. Borra and Florentino A. Tuazon, awarded the contract to Mega Pacific Consortium to supply the automated counting machines for purposes of the modernization program.

Then the Comelec opened Letter of Credit Nos. 003159/03 and 004134/03 to pay Mega Pacific Consortium for the automated counting machines that were delivered to the Comelec. On January 13, 2004, the Supreme Court invalidated the contract due to the failure of the Comelec to observe the bidding procedures provided by law.

Mr. President, as of the time the contract was invalidated, the Comelec paid Mega Pacific Consortium the total contract price of P1,248,949,088; and the Comelec paid Mega Pacific the amount of P856,914,796 for the 1,991 automated counting machines that were delivered. The actual cost of the automated counting machines was P550,810,150. And so, it is estimated that the government suffered a loss of P306,104,646.

Mr. President, the point that I am trying to drive at is the Supreme Court invalidated the contract between Mega Pacific and the Comelec covering the automated machines that had been delivered to the Comelec. In addition, the Supreme Court ordered the Comelec to return the automated machines.

Now, I was at the hearing of the Committee on Finance just a few minutes ago and I heard Chairman Abalos say that they could not return the automated counting machines because the supplier refused to accept them. For heavens sake, Mr. President, is that enough ground for the Comelec to say that it cannot do anything more regarding the automated counting machines? Nandiyan na iyan, kaya gamitin na lamang natin.

My position, Mr. President, is that since the contract that resulted in the delivery of the automated counting machines that are now in the possession of the Comelec was invalid, the fruit of the contract is also invalid and illegal. Therefore, if we are to allow the use of these automated counting machines, as the lawyer of the Comelec is now trying to convince our people through so many statements that have appeared in our mass media, we are in effect providing the defense for the responsible officials who will now say that, Look, the government is now using the machines, so what are you charging us for? We are no longer liable.

In effect, there may be an estoppel on the part of the government to prosecute those responsible and recover the amounts that were paid to prosecute those responsible and recover the amounts that were paid which, incidentally was ordered by the Supreme Court, Mr. President. That is why the Solicitor General was specifically ordered by the Supreme Court to file the necessary cases to recover the amounts that had been paid.

Therefore, Mr. President, I want to place on record that I vigorously dispute the premises that Mr. Abalos, et al., as well as the lawyers of the Comelec, are foisting upon our people that there is nothing wrong if we now use the automated machines that are in the possession of the Comelec, because it is difficult to return them for the reason that the supplier can no longer be found, or words to that effect.

Mr. President, that would be tantamount to allowing a brazen rip-off of this government with our eyes wide open and allow these people to sing a song on the way to the bank. And I do not think that that is good.

May I ask the proper committee to kindly take a look at this matter, Mr. President, so that we can avoid the travesty of justice on our people.

Thank you.

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