Did Coloma accidentally tell the truth?


Since we are often lied to, we the media and the public should be glad and thankful when a public official or a politician tells the truth, even if only accidentally.

When this happens, bells peal and presses stop, so much so that US political pundit, Michael Kinsley, sought to register it as the Kinsley Law of gaffes — “A gaffe is when a politician (accidentally) tells the truth.” He said it first in the UK Guardian on January 14,1992.

Whoever owns the patent, gratitude is due Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma for accidentally (inadvertently, carelessly, mistakenly) revealing the truth that Malacañang is behind the scheme to award to Smartmatic the P1.2-billion contract to repair and augment the PCOS machines of the poll body for the 2016 elections. And what is more alarming, the Office of the President is meddling in the work of the constitutionally independent Commission on Elections (Comelec), and trying to influence the preparations for the 2016 elections.

Like stepping on quicksand
Coloma said it all at a press briefing last Monday. Had he been concise, certain journalists (women perhaps) could be forgiven if they hallucinated that it was all just a “Freudian slip” on his part. But the way the briefing developed, it was more like stepping on quicksand. With every point Coloma made and every elaboration he offered, the administration sank deeper into unconstitutional depths.

Coloma’s truth-telling is all the more astonishing because it was totally gratuitous. The Comelec can speak for itself, it has access to its own press corps, and it has an equally verbose spokesman in James Jimenez.

Until the Press Secretary let this cat out of the bag, no one knew that the administration was actively lobbying the Comelec to award the contract to Smartmatic. Everything was behind the scenes.

The Tribune report
Let us now turn to the substance of what the Press Secretary said, warts and all. I was not present at the news briefing; hence my information comes mainly from the detailed accounts of various Palace beat reporters, who quoted Coloma’s words like they were Shakespeare’s jewels.

Especially helpful for this column was the report in the Tribune of Joshua Labonera, which was most revealing.

Labonera reported the following:

1. Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that Malacañang continues to lodge its trust in the Comelec on the use of the PCOS machines for the 2016 polls despite issues being raised on the contract to refurbish these machines.

2. Coloma went further, saying the reliability of the PCOS machines has been proven the 2010 and 2013 elections.

3. Coloma says “We have gone through two national elections in 2010 and 2013. There were no massive protests or uprising from the people against the results of the two elections.”

4. In fact, there were a lot of anomalies noted in 2010 and 2013. All safety features were not in place at all, thus making it easier to commit automated fraud.

5. A former commissioner, Gus Lagman, whose appointment was not renewed by President Aquino after he started to question the integrity and reliability of the PCOS machines, called the controversial new contract “a midnight deal with Smartmatic.”

Comelec awards, Palace justifies
The link between Malacañang and Comelec is shown in the glaring irregularity of Comelec’s failure to hold a public bidding on the contract.

In a statement, Comelec has contended that the decision to award the contract of refurbishing PCOS machines is in accordance with Executive Order 423 series of 2005 or the law prescribing the rules and procedures on the review and approval of all government contracts to conform with Republic Act no. 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Posing as a lawyer, Coloma says there should be a presumption that Comelec acted in accordance with the law. This presumption argument is a favorite ruse of Palace spokesmen to explain away wrongdoing in the Aquino administration. But serious lawyers say that this line of reasoning is absurd; no lawyer would raise it before the Supreme Court, sitting en banc.

Coloma’s accidental truth-telling exposes a violation of the constitutional provision on the Constitutional commissions in Article IX of the Constitution.

In Section 1, it reads “the constitutional commissions, which shall be independent, are the Civil Service Commission, the Commission on Elections and the Commission on Audit.”

The Aquino administration appears to believe that simply because the President has the power to appoint the chairman and members of these commissions, these bodies are mere extensions of the Office of the President. They are most emphatically not.

Appointed members may feel forever grateful to President Aquino for being appointed, and they may not care one whit about their independence. But the people care. This is a prerogative they are not at liberty to surrender.

When this reprehensible Smartmatic contract is finally heard and deliberated by the Supreme Court, we shall know what this independence means. I’m curious to see who will stand up to argue the position of the executive.

As things stand therefore, Coloma’s accidental truth-telling could be the nail that will send Smartmatic home to Venezuela. There will be no pabaon (parting gift) for Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes, when he retires next month.

Perhaps then we can attend to the necessary mending and overhaul of the Commission on Elections, before the nation holds the 2016 elections


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  1. Understanding Person on

    Mga kababayan, just look at the body language and how Coloma open his lips — the hypocrite “COLOMA” whenever he delivered speech OR answer questions from the press…makikita at mababalangkas mo sa bibig at mukha niya na manloloko itong taong ito – kasi nga mapagpaimbabaw! Hipokrito ang gunggong! Nagbabait-baitan ang gago!

  2. The cat is out of the basket, the PNoy administration, the Comelec and Smartmatic are the triumvirate in stealing elections in the country. No wonder that Sixto Brillantes and Cesar Flores are showing up more arrogance than they were before. Effective this day if the Comelec will not kick out Smartmatic from any Comelec negotiations, the 2016 election will be done even if it is scheduled on 2016. No wonder also that there are lots of confidence in PNoy allies like Mar Roxas.

  3. How the yellow gangsters in malakanyang plan to stay in power in 2016 and beyond;
    Plan a) Use again the expertise of foreign owned smartmatic to manipulate the election and get the desired fake results;
    Plan b) Use pork barrel savings which is more than enough to buy all registered voters and majority of voters are still bobotantes and are poor and mendicants;
    Plan c) If plan a and b fail, use the military if people become restless and establish a totalitarian government.

  4. The most revealing statement is this one : ” There were no massive protests or uprising from the people against the results of the two elections.” Clearly only people power or a form of it will give these yellow b#@st*rds sleepless nights. Boycott is the answer !

  5. I will go a little further to show, when i was a school boy ( until 1968 ) i used to wear shoes out very quickly, then a company called tuff bought out these boots that were designed for men working on building sites & were guaranteed 6 months. They were quite expensive but my mom bought me a pair & i wore them out in just over 4 months, she took them back & they replaced them with a new pair, so in total they lasted 8 months which then worked out quite cheap for us. Could you imagine that here, ha ha ha ha, they would say you have worn them. But in the uk the law says they is what they were intended for to be worn.

  6. Ispirikitik Butiktik on

    Now we know how corrupt the people at Malacanang is! This is just a tip of the iceberg.

  7. We are to blame on this Pcos problem. We made our politicians damage the manual counting before, now it less expensive to cheat especially if you Pnoy controlling both houses, the Comelec and SC. Now Pnoy can always choose his successor in 2016.

  8. I heard an election expert say that the magic formula of Pinoy to hold on power are a combination of: M, P, PICOS machines. M for money=6.606 trillion; Power for an armed personnel, to contain the situation and PICOS machine no election lawyer can understand how it can hide the cheating. This triad can amend the constitution without the people involved. No amount of refurbishing these machines can help and insure true and honest elections given candidates’ with zeal to win at all cost.

  9. “Independent Bodies”??? dpat kc elected din ang mga heads nyan mandate ng tao at ndi presidente pr wala utang n loob..wala rin cla dpat political parties affiliation funded dpat ng people’s govt. ang campaign nila exposures nila pr mabusisi ng tao in tv or radio mga credentials nila.

  10. Brillantes is in deep shit if the SC nullifies the awarded contract to Smartmatic! He has to recoup the advance money he already got -and he will be limping, if not crawl, to his retirement.

  11. MALACANANG & COMELEC can’t let go of SMARTMATIC, ‘coz this “swindling” company allow them to be in positions right now. It was proven that the unsuspecting & “don’t care” Filipino voters”, can easily be fooled into believing that because the results are fast, and in sync with the “paid” SWS surveys, SMARTMATIC is good.
    PITY the Filipinos — we don’t care… “kahit ginagago na tayo ng harap-harapan”.
    The Filipinos today particularly the youth and the students seems to have lost that “social consciousness”. We don’t care what happens to our suffering poor countrymen as long as we have our gadgets, cars; can go to malls, to Boracay..etc..etc.

  12. P. on

    “Kung may mabaho, mangangamoy”. Nangangamoy na nga, kaya may mabaho!

  13. This president and his administration does his best to control all offices of government whether independent or not. It is obvious that when the palace comes out on its own to defend the Comelec, it is protecting one of the yellow gang’s assets.

  14. These PCOS machines are costing the taxpayers a lot of money, are more expensive than ATM machines that banks uses. They are fraught with failures that almost nobody trust their use on the next election except the present administration who will mostly benefit for their use.

  15. See? Heaven do move in mysterious ways… it’s up to us to keep it moving to its intended goal.

  16. Thank you so much Yen.
    What are we waiting for – TIME TO GO TO THE STREET (EDSA 4).
    Let us make it happen before Pope Francis come to the the Philippines.

  17. sonny dela cruz on

    When people benefited from DAP, there will be no Independence of the institution and there will be no check & balances. Kawawang mga Filipino. Pasa-pasa na sa mga kaibigan ang magpapatakbo ng gobyerno. Wala ng pag-asang umunlad ang mga tao, lalo na yuong mga mahihirap.

  18. Hindi madali ang iniisip natin!sa sobrang kapal ng mukha ni Aquino at yellow gangs,kung paano nila napayapa ang galit ng tao sa DAP!itong ganitong klaseng usapan lang,kapag walang nag-organisa ng people power!parang masamang hangin lang itong dumaan sa kanila!
    Ang lawak ng kontrol ni Aquino at yellow gangs!!mula. Doj,hanggang supreme court!
    Kung walang mag-uumpisa, lalo na ang media kung puro dada lang at hindi lalabas sa opisina nila!talagang dasal na lang ang aasahan ng bayan!

    • i complete agree with your comment marcos polo, but i only take exception to the last sentence na dasal na lang ang aasahan ng bayan. do not forget that the Almighty God helps those who help themselves and not the bystanders in this case yung puro daldal lang.

  19. I really do not trust Smartmatic specially on the last two elections (2010 and 2013) where reports of rigging is coming out. There really is no difference between the Arroyo and Aquino elections, they both cheated.

  20. Roldan Guerrero on

    This time the fish is caught on its mouth, not by net or any fishing devise. Aquino wants to triplicate what happened in the previous two national elections. The first one in 2010 where he won as President. It is now very clear that massive cheating happened. The previous two elections are symbols of reign of the incompetents, a substandard president and flocks of inferior lawmakers representing a nation that is leading to a failed state.We must not just do comments here….we must unite and unseat these people who are unlawfully elected.