PRESIDENT Aquino promised to set a climate of accountability but five years into his term and he has failed to establish and enforce such accountability in many areas in government.
Many people want to take on the mantle of leadership but are not prepared to accept the accountability that goes with it. Accountability is what Mr. Aquino solemnly promised when he was campaigning. It is what he talks about in all his speeches.
The President knows only too well accountability is what would bring back the people’s trust in their government and their leaders. It is what would empower our people to act responsibly, to believe that they have a stake in making this nation great again.
And yet, more than two weeks after the bloody massacre of 44 members of the Special Action Forces (SAF) in the town of Mamasapano, Maguindanao, and the families of the victims are still crying out for accountability.
Nothing much has been done except the President’s acceptance of the resignation of suspended Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima, which fanned further allegations of a cover-up instead of quelling them.
If Purisima, who was mum since day one of the massacre, was not responsible then why did he resign? Was he not under a 6-month suspension by the Ombudsman, so officially not part of the chain of command when the massacre happened?
At least eight bodies have been created to conduct investigations on the Mamasapano massacre but accountability seems even more obscured, no thanks to the President Aquino’s obvious procrastination.
The focus on Mamasapano has also made certain poll officers very happy, particularly the former Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes Jr., because it has drawn attention away from his own accountability.
This early, I predict many allegations of election fraud in the 2016 elections because of Brillantes’s lack of delicadeza and questionable actions favoring Smartmatic-Total Information Technology Inc.
Despite all the inefficiencies and blunders of the highly controversial precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that were used by the (Comelec) in the 2010 and 2013 elections, Smartmatic was again favored by Brillantes and his cohorts.
Only in the Philippines do we reward inefficiency in public contracts, all because of corruption.
Smartmatic’s automation project has cost the Comelec over P20.3 billion in the last six years alone.
We first rented their PCOS machines in 2010, then bought them for the 2013 elections.
Now we, no thanks to the Comelec, are paying Smartmatic again to check their machines for the many snafus and glitches we complained about in the first place.
Brillantes and his cohorts, just a few weeks before they retired, went ahead and decided to tap Smartmatic to check the state of the 82,000 Pcos machines even without the benefit of a public bidding, for a cost of P300 million.
Mind you, the P300 million is just an initial payment, just to check the machines, not even repair them.
No wonder, Brillantes was smugly smiling all the way to his retirement.
It seems there is no stopping the Comelec from giving Smartmatic the entire P1.2-billion contract for the diagnostics, repair and refurbishing of their 82,000 PCOS machines.
Why does Smartmatic have so much influence over the Comelec? What does this Venezuelan company have over our poll officers?
Is there really no accountability in the poll body that is mandated by law to make our elections transparent, honest and credible?
The Comelec, since 2009, keeps awarding contract after contract to Smartmatic even if it did not and does not meet many of the required qualifications. And it keeps disqualifying other more qualified bidders.
Smartmatic does not even own the system and technology it is selling us.
It was sued in the United States over its usurpation of the rights over the technology that another company rightfully owns.
Smartmatic does not make the PCOS machines. Jarltech in Taiwan makes them. They were only subcontracted by Smartmatic.
The software or source code used to operate the machines is owned by Dominion Voting Systems of Canada, which sued Smartmatic for usurpation.
Smartmatic is only a subcontractor—a middleman who does tongpats—charged to us, taxpayers.
The bidding specification clearly prohibits bidders from subcontracting major components of a bidder’s offered system, but the Comelec just lets Smartmatic get away with this infraction of the law.
Worse, the PCOS machines are not even covered by any kind of warranty.
We keep paying Smartmatic every three years or so to check them, refurbish them, replace them, or what have you.
Maybe much worse, despite all the prosecutorial and law-enforcement powers that can be used by the Aquino administration to go after corruption, the President just lets the Comelec officials do their sweetheart deals with Smartmatic.
President Aquino vowed that all public contracts would be scrutinized, their negotiations made transparent, every cent poured into them properly accounted for. Public servants would live up to their names and owe their tenure to the people they serve. They would be our servants and not our masters. Elections, the bedrock of democracy, would be fair and honest.
Brillantes, and the Comelec under his watch, failed in all these aspects, and Brillantes and his cohorts were able to get away with it.
Letting these wrongdoers get away with their criminal behavior would only ensure that our sordid history of rigged elections and public contracts, of corrupt activities and official misconduct, would be repeated in the future.