INVOLVEMENT OF ABOITIZ-OWNED FIRM IN POLL PROJECT SHOULD HAVE ALARMED COMELEC – BINAY

UNO PRESS RELEASE

2 JULY 2009

REF: JOEY SALGADO

INVOLVEMENT OF ABOITIZ-OWNED FIRM IN POLL PROJECT SHOULD HAVE ALARMED COMELEC – BINAY

Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay today said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) may have committed a major oversight when it did not probe the involvement in the multi-billion poll automation project of a company owned by allies with Mrs. Arroyo.

“The fact that an Aboitiz-owned company is involved in the automation project should have raised alarm bells in the Comelec,” he said.

“It changes the entire scenario. We should all be seriously concerned that a business interest with close ties to Mrs. Arroyo will be in charge of shipping and warehousing of 82,200 counting machines for the 2010 elections,” he added.

“That alone would put some doubt on the integrity of the votes that will be counted,” he said.

Binay had said a “well-connected businessman” who reportedly called up an official of Total Information Management (TIM) last week holds the key to the decision of TIM to break its ties with Smartmatic Inc.

TIM reportedly decided to scuttle its ties with Smartmatic after the call, which came after an official of the Barbados-based company was seen in a huddle with a “member of a very influential clan” and a “very powerful man” in a coffee shop.

“Under the administration of Mrs. Arroyo, a businessman will not be influential and well-connected unless he has direct ties to powerful personalities in government,” he said.

“The story will become clearer once the identity of this influential businessman is revealed,” he said.

Binay also said another report that a Smartmatic official was seen in a huddle with “a member of a very influential clan” and a “very powerful man” prior to the call to the TIM official should be probed further.

“These reports show that there are well-connected and powerful interests who are very much interested in the automation project, whether for financial gain or for fraud, or both,” he said. “But they tend to show that the demand for money is only the tip of the iceberg.”

At that time, TIM, which has 60 percent equity in the consortium that won the project tho automate the 2010 elections, was reportedly stalling in signing the papers to formalize its partnership with Smatmatic.

The report said the TIM official was told to “cooperate” since “powerful people are being offended.”

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