Lagman: No ill feelings over non-reappointment

by Caroline J. Howard, ANC

Posted at Apr 18 2012 12:39 PM | Updated as of Apr 19 2012 05:51 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Outgoing Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Augusto 'Gus' Lagman said on Wednesday he does not harbor any ill-feelings against Malacañang despite its decision not to reappoint him to the poll body.

"(They said) I would be rejected anyway, and to spare me that humiliation, they decided I should not be reappointed. That's Malacanang's decision and I accepted it," Lagman said on ANC's Headstart.

His appointment lapsed on March 23, and there's been no word of his reappointment to the poll body.

There's been speculation Lagman, a long-time National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) quick count supervisor, was not re-appointed so the Palace could secure a conviction of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona by appeasing Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

Enrile was reportedly not keen on confirming Lagman's appointment, whom he believes helped Namfrel manipulate the 1987 senatorial poll results to secure the victory of allies of the late President Corazon Aquino.

Enrile nearly lost in the 1987 polls where he came last. Twenty-two allies of Mrs. Aquino won in the 1987 elections. Only Enrile and Joseph Estrada made it from the opposition.

"We should put that issue to rest," said Lagman. "Why blame us when our count is not official, it's Comelec's count that's official. They're the ones you should target."

Lagman believes his case is not related to the impeachment trial Corona.

Return to private sector

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes expressed hope Lagman will be re-appointed, saying it would be difficult to adjust to a new commissioner just a year before the next polls.

"Matagal na namin nakasama sa Gus, sana na-reappoint na lang... mahirap yun makikibagay ka nanaman sa isang bagong comissioner... It would have been better kung na-reappoint siya," he said.

Although grateful for his time in government, Lagman said his one regret would be to lose the chance to further serve and help with the modernize the election system.

An I.T. expert, Lagman has been recommending a system for the electronic filing and monitoring of cases in Comelec.

"I think I was able to make significant contributions in my 10 months and 19 days with the Comelec. My only regret is that I know there's a lot more that I can do," he said.

"There are advocates outside Comelec that can continue the fight against cheating in elections and I think they will continue to be a hindrance to cheating."

Lagman said he will go back to the private sector, where he can continue his crusade for fraud-free elections.

PCOS: Good or bad?

Meantime, the Supreme Court has ordered Comelec and Smartmatic TIM to answer two more petitions seeking to cancel its P1.8 billion contract to buy Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines for next year's mid-term polls.

Election watchdogs had called on the high court to nullify the deed of sale between the poll body and Smartmatic TIM.

They said Comelec should have conducted public bidding for the purchase of equipment. They also cited technical glitches involving the PCOS machines in the 2010 polls.

Brillantes believes the PCOS machines are reliable.

"Sigurado akong hindi madadaya yung PCOS machines. Kung meron man mandadaya, tao rin yon," Brillantes said on "Umagang Kay Ganda".

But Lagman has some reservations.

"One major factor why the automated polls worked in 2010, was the big lead of Aquino in the presidential race. The fact that nothing happened in the 2010 polls doesn't mean the PCOS machines were not vulnerable to errors," Lagman said.

"I suggest we unbundle the automated polls system, divide the system into various parts," he added.