Press Release
August 24, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today commended the Supreme Court for thwarting a vile attempt to use the 1,991 automated counting machines (ACMs) which were acquired under a fraudulent contract that had already been invalidated by the tribunal.

Pimentel said the Supreme Court demonstrated the highest sense of righteousness, wisdom and justice by repudiating the petition of presidential election lawyer, Romulo Macalintal which was backed by Malacañang to allow the use of the tainted ACMs for the 2007 elections.

He said the people behind the dubious scheme would have hit three birds with one stone had the high court granted Macalintals position.

According to Pimentel, a favorable court ruling would have allowed election officials and private individuals involved in the deal to evade criminal prosecution; prevented the government from recovering the money paid for the equipment; and allowed the use of defective counting machines for possible cheating operations in the 2007 elections.

I salute the Supreme Court for trashing the unabashed try by people associated with some Comelec and MegaPacific officials to use the illegally-obtained counting machines in next years elections, he said.

In its 11-page decision, the SC said that allowing the use of the ACMs would have the effect of exculpating Comelec and MegaPacific officials for alleged graft and of depriving the government of the chance to recover the P1.3 billion paid for the botched poll modernization project.

The court also chided the petitioner for disregarding the fact that it had already rendered a final and executory ruling in 2005 disallowing the use of the ACMs for future elections.

Pimentel said that since the contract awarded by Comelec to MegaPacific for the purchase of the ACMs had been declared null and void by the Supreme Court in January, 2004, for being tainted with legal and technical infirmities, then it follows that the fruits of that contract are also invalid.

He also assailed Malacañang for backing the Comelecs position to use the idle ACMs in the 2007 elections. He said this was irresponsible on the part of the Palace since the high court had a standing order to the Comelec to return the ACMs to the MegaPacific and to the Office of the Solicitor General to recover the money paid for the equipment.

Pimentel said the SCs ruling on the issue is very timely since the Office of the Ombudsman is set to resolve a petition of Comelec officials led by Chairman Benjamin Abalos to dismiss the graft charges against them in connection with the MegaPacific contract. Pimentel is one of the complainants in the case.

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