Poll watchdog denies being a foreign-funded group

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 08 2013 05:32 PM | Updated as of Mar 09 2013 01:32 AM

MANILA – Poll watchdog Automated Election System (AES) Watch clarified on Friday that it is not a foreign-funded group.

In an email sent to ABS-CBN News, AES Watch convenor Bobby Tuazon said: "AES Watch, which groups more than 40 organizations including the UPAA, CBCP-Nassa, CenPEG, PCS, and others is not foreign-funded. If Mr. Brillantes is really a lawyer, he should come out with proof to back his wild allegation otherwise it will only confirm it as a desperate bid to destroy the credibility of the broad, citizens' and non-partisan election watchdog."

AES Watch is led by chair emeritus, former VP Teofisto Guingona, Jr.  Its first spokesperson is Alfredo Pascual, now UP President.

Tuazon denied that AES Watch is advocating the "open election system."

"This information begs for any evidence or statement that will show AES Watch as an organization advocates for the OES. We are all for automating the election - but it should be done in compliance with the election law and consistent with the acceptable IT and management best practices and standards. This is one of our main issues with Comelec and Brillantes,” he said.

Brillantes previously accused AES Watch member Cenpeg of being foreign-funded, apparently exasperated at their constant criticism.

In a congressional hearing last February, Brillantes said, “Why do we have to inform them, do we have an obligation to inform them every day? Why do we have to address all your concerns? Do they want me to come to them. I don't even know their organization. Cenpeg is foreign -unded that's the only thing I know."

Another AES Watch convenor, former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman, previously expressed support for an open election system.

Earlier this week, the Comelec released a resolution limiting the source code review of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to political parties and interest groups.

It specifically said that foreign-funded groups, among others, are not to be allowed to do their own source code review.