Comelec didn't probe regional directors linked to Garci

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 23 2011 01:02 PM | Updated as of Aug 23 2011 09:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections did not investigate regional directors who were linked to alleged fraud in the 2004 polls, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said Tuesday.

Speaking before the Appropriations Committee hearing for the poll body’s 2012 budget, Brillantes said the regional directors mentioned in the "Hello, Garci" tapes will be a matter for the joint Comelec-Department of Justice committee to investigate.

Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said some of the regional directors named in the "Hello, Garci" controversy remain with the poll body and have been transferred.

Rey Sumalipao is now Comelec regional director for region 10 while Michael Abbas is now regional director for region 9.

Wilfredo Daraog and Borromeo Batangan  have since retired from service.

At the same time, Brillantes also told lawmakers that the disbursement of some P197 million to help the military with its deputization by the Comelec in 2004 will be investigated.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the amount, as stated in the so-called Mayuga report, was given by General Gabriel Habacon to field personnel “with no need for liquidation.”

He found it questionable that the money did not need to be audited when the Comelec now has to fight for funding for its other projects and expenditures.

The Comelec is asking for a budget of P15 billion for 2012 to prepare for the 2013 midterm elections. The Department of Budget and Management approved only over P9 billion in its submission to Congress.

2013 poll automation

In his opening statement before the panel, Brillantes decried the diversion of some P164 million in Comelec’s personnel services funding to the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund for unfilled positions in government.

Brillantes said the 2013 midterm elections will be fully automated nationwide so they need to make preparations as early as next year.

Comelec is seeking a P12 billion budget for the 2013 election automation but the DBM only approved P7 billion.

Brillantes said the amount only allows them to buy the machines for automation but not the accessories like ballots, ballot boxes, canvassing  and transmission equipment and laptops.

He said it will be too late if they bid out the accessories in 2013. All in all, the accessories would cost an additional P1.5 billion.

Brillantes said there would be an open bidding for the contract for the automation of the 2013 elections to prevent foreign intervention through a foreign company.

He said the process opens the system to accommodate proposals on who could offer a lower priced contract. They would also like to see Filipino companies join in the bidding.

Commissioner Gus Lagman said there will be more machines in the 2013 elections to prevent long waiting times at polling precincts.

Brillantes also questioned why P51 million for overseas absentee voting was taken from the Comelec budget and transferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs.