Press Release
June 10, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today warned election authorities against allowing a businessman, who was involved in the anomalous P1.3 billion poll modernization contract in 2004, to participate in the bidding for a project to computerize the 2007 elections.

Pimentel said he was tipped off by an informant that one of the owners or incorporators of MegaPacific, a certain Mr. Fong, is supposedly making a bid again for the new poll automation project of the Commission on Elections.

He stressed that the owners and officials of MegaPacific should be blacklisted from all government projects because of their involvement in the contract on the purchase of 1,900 automated vote-counting machines for use in the 2004 elections which was voided by the Supreme Court for being tainted with legal and technical infirmities.

We should not allow such a thing to happen because obviously, people might think that we are closing our eyes to the fact that the contract with MegaPacific which was invalidated by the Supreme Court and Mr. Fong was involved there would somehow resurrect its hand in getting contracts from Comelec which can give rise to suspicions of dubious dealings, Pimentel said.

The minority leader also expressed outrage that MegaPacific has continued to defy the order of the high tribunal to refund the amount that was paid to it for the automated vote counting machines and electronic transmission facilities that were not used in the 2004 elections as a consequence of the courts decision voiding the deal.

The owners and officials of MegaPacific could no longer be found in their listed office address after they dissolved the company.

Pimentel said the money was not recovered from MegaPacific because of the apparent lack of determination on the part of government authorities concerned to compel the owners and officials of the company to reimburse the payments.

Meanwhile, the opposition leader lauded the move of the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct an intensive preliminary investigation into the liability of Comelec and MegaPacific officials in the cancelled P1.3 billion poll automation deal.

This was in compliance with a directive of the Supreme Court to the Ombudsman to speed up its work in determining the criminal liability of those involved in the contract.

I am happy with that announcement because the sooner they act on the case, the better, in view of the fact that the elections are looming in the horizons in 2007. We do not want it said that the same people who manned the Comelec when the MegaPacific contract was entered into would still be there to conduct the forthcoming elections, Pimentel said.

It was Pimentel who first initiated the filing of graft charges against Comelec officials and other individuals involved in the poll automation contract after it was voided by the Supreme Court on Jan. 13, 2004.

However, Pimentel expressed his disappointment over the request of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to the high tribunal to reconsider its directive for her office to finally resolve the case by June 30, 2006.

He said he does not believe that the high courts directive was unreasonable since the case has dragged on for more than two years already. Moreover, he said the case had been extensively investigated by the Ombudsman during the time of Gutierrezs predecessor, Simeon Marcelo.

In fact, Pimentel said that graft investigators of the Ombudsman had already recommended the filing of graft charges against the erring Comelec officials and private individuals as early as October, 2004. Subsequently, he said the resolution on the case was ready for signing by Marcelo before he prematurely resigned on Nov. 20, 2005. But for mysterious reasons, Marcelo changed his mind about signing the resolution.

The resolution of the case on the tainted election automation contract of 2004 is long-overdue. The Ombudsman should therefore expeditiously resolve the case instead of looking for an alibi to postpone her decision, he said.

News Latest News Feed