Comelec exec charged for P240-M midnight deal

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A Commission on Elections (Comelec) official was charged yesterday in connection with a P240-million “midnight deal” involving the diagnostics and repair of 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

In a 19-page complaint, former Biliran congressman Glenn Chong urged the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate Commissioner Christian Robert Lim for serious misconduct and the possible filing of an impeachment complaint.

The charge stemmed from the Comelec’s awarding of an extended warranty contract to Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) in 2015 for the repair of the PCOS machines the poll body earlier purchased from the information technology provider.

The contract was in preparation for the May 9, 2016 national and local elections. It was dubbed as a “midnight deal” as it was signed by then Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Jan. 30, 2015, three days before he retired from office.

The Supreme Court (SC) nullified the deal in April of the same year after finding that the contract was awarded through direct contracting, not public bidding.

Chong said Lim, as chairman of the Comelec steering committee for the 2016 national and local elections, should be held liable for still pursuing a deal with Smartmatic amid the technical errors of its PCOS machines and the SC’s nullification of the contract.

Lim, Brillantes, Commissioner Al Parreño, as well as retired commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph were earlier charged with plunder by former Negros Oriental congressman Jacinto Paras before the ombudsman in connection with the midnight deal. The complaint is still pending before the anti-graft body.


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