Newly re-elected congressman faces sins of the past



We received notice from AES Watch, a coalition of registered nongovernment organizations, citizens’ poll watchdogs, policy study and professional groups including IT experts and resource persons of the Poll Automation Law (RA 9369), faith-based groups and other poll stakeholders who have been actively working in collective or in individual actions since 2009 to promote transparent, secured and trustworthy automated election system in the Philippines compliant with the Election Modernization Law and industry standards. The notice was “for all individuals, all Filipino citizens to join Honorable Teofisto Guingona Jr., former vice president of the Republic of the Philippines, and members of AES Watch, in the filing of a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman and hold into account public officers at the Comelec who, in collusion with local and foreign business interests, placed in grave peril the sanctity of the ballot in the Philippines by approving the use of a highly-suspect automated elections system—the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) in the May 10, 2010 national and local elections and May 13, 2013 mid-term elections. This is just part of a series of legal actions aimed at calling public attention to the serious travesty of our election system and violation of the citizens’ right to an election process that truly reflects their sovereign will through accurate, secured and transparent counting of votes.

The Comelec then under Chairman Jose Melo started the whole poll automation mess in 2010. For the 2013 elections, the Comelec under former election lawyer, Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. continue to commit blunder after blunder in the poll automation process to cover up the major non-compliance of RA 9369 and industry standards on security, accuracy and transparency by its foreign technology supplier.

They should be held accountable for this terrible technological and political mess that has cost the country billions of taxpayers’ money and virtually deprived the Filipino people of their right to have their votes counted correctly in a clean, transparent and honest election system.”

I admire the tenacity of this group and I hope that something does come out of it soon because experience has shown election cases are resolved almost at the end of the three-year term. Also, Chairman Brillantes had already stated his plans of resigning in 2015 in favour of an ambassadorial post. So all these might render moot if the end goal is to have him removed.

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While we were all busy with the elections, the Supreme Court rendered on April 20, 2013, its Decision in G.R. No. 19167 affirming the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 89732 promulgated on March 26,2010 in relation to Civil Case No. A-2473 prohibiting the conversion and commercialization of the Agoo Public Plaza or Imelda Park now called the Agoo People’s Center.

In its decision, the Supreme Court has held that former Agoo Mayor Eufranio C. Eriguel (now congressman of the Second District of La Union) and other municipal officials namely his treasurer and members of the Sangguniang Bayan, are personally liable for the loan secured from the Land Bank, Agoo branch in the amount of P32 million. That means these officials have to pay off the loan out of their own pockets and not through the use of municipal funds. Now where in the world will these local officials get the money to pay? I am sure that Congressman Eriguel can easily wiggle his way out of this hole just as he was able to put his franchise of Chowking inside the Museo Iloko. When will the desecration of historical and public parks end? Why didn’t this decision by the High Court have any weight on the candidacy of these persons? Oh well . . .

God is Great!


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