MANILA - A youth leader said Saturday the automation of the 2010 national elections is still "off to a tainted start" despite the reconciliation between Barbados-based Smartmatic International and Filipino partner Total Information Management Corp. (TIM).
"The Commission on Elections cannot just expect us to breathe a sigh of relief now that partners TIM and Smartmatic seem to have made peace with each other," Kabataan (Youth) party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino said in a statement.
Palatino said the Comelec should thoroughly investigate allegations that TIM has a connection with First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, who has been tagged by the political opposition as one of the masterminds in the alleged cheating in the 2004 presidential election, before proceeding with the automation project.
"The FG connection has established a conjecture and instilled public distrust in the players involved," the congressman said.
The First Gentleman got involved in the TIM-Smartmatic break-up issue because of his family's alleged close ties with the Aboitiz family, which owns 2Go, a forwarding company tapped by the Barbados-based company to deliver 82,000 automated machines for the 2010 elections.
Comelec legal chief Ferdinand Rafanan said Saturday that the Smartmatic-TIM partnership assured him that tapping the Aboitiz-owned forwarding company is a commercial deal which does not involve politics.
Rafanan said he believed the company's reason due to the fact that 2Go is the biggest forwarding company in the country.
Palatino, meanwhile, said the Comelec should make public the terms of reconciliation of TIM and Smartmatic.
"How did they finally come to terms with the nature of their deal? Until these details are not revealed, all other succeeding processes will remain suspect," the congressman said.
He added that the Comelec should make the preparations for the 2010 automated elections from start to finish to convince the public of credible elections.