I am one of many respondents in a complaint filed by the COMELEC’s Law Department using as a basis the separate affidavits of one Worthy Acosta and former COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Jr. Following are excerpts from my counter-affidavit, which should give the reader an idea of what it’s about.
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Respondent specifically denies … participation in a conspiracy to steal and tamper with official ballots from Baguio City;
… he and his colleagues at AESWatch are being implicated in an alleged conspiracy with personalities identified with the National Transformation Council, including, among others, Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, Glenn Chong and Worthy Acosta, the allegation being without any legal and factual basis and is merely a legal conclusion.
… these paragraphs of the Complaint, by their own terms, actually confirm that he [Mr. Gus Lagman] and his colleagues at AESWatch were not privy to any plan allegedly hatched and executed, by Acosta, Cojuangco, Chong and others, to allegedly steal and tamper with ballots from Precinct Cluster No. 5 in Baguio City or anywhere else, and use the same to discredit the May 2013 mid-term elections;
Respondent [Gus Lagman] specifically denies … [the allegation]that he and his colleagues … were part of the conspiracy to steal and tamper with ballots, and to make “propaganda” materials to use the same to discredit the May 2013 elections; Respondent admits to being invited to meetings with Cojuangco’s group as a resource person on the vulnerabilities of the PCOS machines; all that he presented in these meetings were his previous assessments of the PCOS that he had presented in around 200 gatherings from the year 2008 to an audience ranging from one to a thousand in number. At no point did he ever touch … on the ballots as he has had no personal knowledge of how these ballots came to be;
… As Acosta admits in his own Affidavit, Respondent and his colleagues from AESWatch were never even anywhere near Cojuangco’s group when the plan to steal and tamper with ballots was hatched and executed; further, Acosta himself does not even identify, other than Chong, who these “most of the others” who knew the ballots were stolen he refers to were. Thus to implicate Respondent and his colleagues from AESWatch in the alleged conspiracy is malicious and without any factual or legal bases.
AESWatch is not part of the National Transformation Council; neither is Respondent nor his colleagues at the AESWatch whose names were mentioned in the Acosta Affidavit members of the NTC. None of them were present or had a hand in the so-called launching of the NTC in Lipa, Batangas City. The only thing common between [them], on the one hand … and Chong and Cojuangco on the other hand, is that they are all critics of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) automated elections system; Respondent has consistently criticized the PCOS because it has failed, and continues to fail, to abide by what the law required as security features for an automated election system. But certainly, it is not a crime to criticize a system that has failed to comply with the legal requirements for security features of an automated election system. Moreover it is a constitutionally-protected right to express one’s belief and opinion about matters that concern the public interest and the common good.
… He [Mr. Gus Lagman] admits to being filmed making a presentation about the vulnerabilities of the PCOS but never did he in any way discuss stolen ballots in his presentation; He specifically denies making any Powerpoint presentation dealing with stolen and tampered ballots; neither does he have any personal knowledge of Acosta’s claim that he [Acosta] stole and tampered with the ballots from Baguio City. It appears to Respondent that his presentation was spliced into a single video with an apparent common purpose to make it appear that he was in on the conspiracy, when both Acosta’s and Brillantes’ Affidavits never mention him being part of the alleged conspiracy that hatched and executed the plan to steal and tamper with ballots. Both Affidavits actually confirm that he was invited into a few meetings of Cojuangco’s group after the alleged stealing and tampering happened.
(And following are additional excerpts that reveal the possible motivation of why I and my colleagues in AESWatch are being implicated.)
Brillantes was quoted in the press as threatening his critics with these words:“They made our life difficult. Now, they should watch out how I get payback.”
Alas, Brillantes found an opportunity to exact vengeance on Respondent and his colleagues at AESWatch by dragging them into a suit on the basis of the statements of a shady character who has admitted to having ran afoul of his principals over a failed business venture and is now being accused by his principals of absconding with the money.
Unable before to stifle legitimate opposition raised by Respondent and AESWatch on a questionable technology exemplified by the PCOS Machine, Brillantes has now upped the ante by filing a Complaint for an imagined and fabricated electoral offense against them.
The factual circumstances surrounding the filing of this case support Respondent’s observation that this has been a premeditated act on the part of Brillantes.
As early as May 2013, he [Brillantes] had already been warning of a “payback time,” and earlier before that, of a prosecution for electoral offenses, for his critics, including Respondent.
Undeterred by the threats, Respondent, and many of his colleagues at AESWatch, exposed Brillantes’ use of a huge intelligence fund for surveillance, and then filed a Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Habeas Data against him.