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Koko wants IT people in Comelec

SENATOR Aquilino Pimentel III vowed Sunday to block the appointment of politicians to the top positions of the Commission on Elections, particularly if they are not well versed in information technology.

Pimentel, a member of the powerful Commission on Appointments, said he would only approve the appointment of independent-minded appointees familiar with the automated election system.

If the appointee was a politician at one time, he or she must have shown independence in the past, and must be completely retired from politics, Pimentel said.

]President Benigno Aquino III has not yet designated a replacement for Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes and Commissioners Elias Yusof and Ramoncito Tagle, who retired.

Pimentel, who was a victim of vote shaving, said automated elections would ensure clean, honest and credible elections.

He added that full automation must be preserved to safeguard the true will of the people.

The Automated Election Law requires that elections be automated.

Pimentel, who is from Mindanao, said he prefers a “qualified Muslim appointee” to assume one of the three vacant posts.

Also over the weekend, a former official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the contract between the Comelec and Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corp. For the repair and refurbishment of some 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

In a letter to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz urged the Ombudsman to investigate the complaint filed by the conveners of Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E).

Cruz said the Ombudsman has a duty to determine if the negotiated P268 million contract between Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM would benefit the Filipino people.

Cruz also expressed support for calls to blacklist Smartmatic-TIM for alleged violations of election laws.

In its “Request for Assistance”, the C3E asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the “illegal and unjust” refurbishment contract between the Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM.

“Extending the warranty can only mean extending the warrantor’s obligation to repair or replace PCOS defects for free. Smartmatic is the warrantor. Reversing the warranty burden is illegal and unjust,” C3E said.

The group named Brillantes, acting Chairman Christian Lim, and Commissioner Al Parreno as among the possible respondents in the complaint.

The Comelec-Smartmatic deal has also been challenged before the Supreme Court, which has issued a temporary restraining order to stop the poll agency from implementing the contract while the case is being decided.

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