The suffering of survivors; no selective impunity please
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa () - December 25, 2011 - 12:00am

The pictures of survivors mourning the death of their loved ones say it all. For those who died, life has come to an end and so does suffering as we know it on earth. Parents who lost their children suffer most acutely. As one who survived the flash floods said, he would have preferred if he had died instead. That is what is known as the guilt syndrome - when those who live suffer from guilt that they are alive and their loved one has died.

So there must be psychiatrists or therapists who will help them overcome those feelings. Certainly the father who said it would have been better if he had died instead needs help. He reveals an inability to cope with the loss. He will need to be talked to so that he can get out of the feelings of guilt. He needs to be told repeatedly that it was not his fault to help him regain his confidence to move on. The stronger ones may survive the trauma but not the weak who will spend their waking hours going over and over the terror of tragic night and what they could have done. It is like mourning an ordinary death of a loved one, only more intense and grief so compelling it leads to depression. Some turn to suicide as a way out.

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Critics of President Aquino and his recent actions should be careful not to connect the findings of computer experts on what really happened in May 10 with his being the president. The findings should stand on its own and not be used as a political weapon.

The election is one thing and the winners are another. If they attack the winners with the findings these would lose its moral ascendancy.

Getting at the root of the May 10 election is consistent with the government’s avowed fight against corruption and impunity. This should be the perspective to view the shocking findings. We are right to demand answers and not allow the enemies of truth to get away with selective impunity. It thwarts the search for truth and justice. Impunity is impunity whoever is unpunished for a crime committed. The same goes for accountability. It is as unjust and dishonest if it is selective.

Edmundo Casino, a computer expert of CENPEG-Automated Election System (AES) Watch, has dedicated time and effort to get at the bottom of the fraud of the computerized elections.

Recently he sent me still another reason why Smartmatic-Tim Corporation should not have been allowed to supply the electoral system. It was a foreign group with 60 percent owned by Total Information Management (TIM), a Barbados company that violated the Foreign Investments Act.

Here is an excerpt of his statement of facts.

“TIM and SI formed a joint venture called Smartmatic-TIM corporation, 60 percent owned by TIM and 40 percent owned by SI. STC entered into the Automated Election System (AES) Contract with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on July 10, 2009.

TIM sold its interest in STC to 1920 Business Inc. (1920BI), claimed as the holding firm of STC.

A month before 1920 Business’ birth, TIM nearly backed out of the automation project.

Jose Mari Antunez, an executive of TIM, confided to senators his fears about being jointly and severally liable with foreigners. His TIM was doing only 10 percent of the work, and Smartmatic 90 percent. But if anything went wrong, TIM would be absorbing 60 percent of the legal liabilities, while Smartmatic only 40 percent.

Comelec boss Jose Melo seethed with anger that the automation was collapsing. Antunez and Smartmatic CFO Armando Yanes were ordered to settle their differences right in the Comelec conference room. Emerging smiling, they told the press they had been barred from saying anything bad about the project, each other, and the Comelec.

Then came 1920 Business Inc. 1920BI was registered with the SEC on August 11, 2009. It has a paid capital of P678 million. Its biggest stockholder of 60 percent is TIM, which was bought by 1920BI. The second largest stockholder is SI, which owns 40 percent.

In the SEC papers of 1920BI, SI paid up 90 percent of their P678-million stock, and TIM only 10 percent. SI chief finance officer Armando Yanes, a Venezuelan newcomer to the Philippines, runs operations. TIM, a computer system provider of major local banks, contributes only 10 percent of the work, TIM founder Antunez has admitted to senators last July 2009.

Incorporated Aug 2009, 1920BI has 13,559,997 Class-A shares, each worth P1, for a total of P13,559,997. TIM, the holding firm’s registered 60-percent owner, paid up a total of P67,799,997 for the Class-A chunk.

1920BI has another 9,039,998 Class-B shares, valued P13.50 apiece, for a total of P122,039,973. SI, the holding firm’s 40-percent owner, plunked in P610,199,673 for the Class-B portion.

1920BI’s total paid up capital was P678 million. In effect, TIM pitched in only 10 percent (P67,799,997) of the working capital; Smartmatic gave the lion’s share (P610,199,997).  

The SEC general information sheet identifies the following directors and officers: Juan C. Villa, Filipino, of Kuala Lumpur, chairman; Nilo S. Cruz, Filipino, of Muntinlupa City; Alberto Castro, Spanish, of Caracas; Lamberto F.L. Lorenzo, Filipino, of Makati; Edgardo W. Valenzuela, Filipino, of Parañaque, members; Ruby Rose J. Yusi, Filipino, corporate secretary; Pablo de Borja, Filipino, assistant corporate secretary; and Ruliena Pinate, Venezuelan, treasurer.

Conceding foreign superiority in electronic voting, the automation law (Republic Act 9369) allows foreign firms to participate. Still it requires observance of the Foreign Investments Act, and so limits foreign partners to only 40 percent of the contracting venture.

STC seemingly complied with this in bid submissions. But in truth, SI pitched in nearly 90 percent of the capital. TIM founder Jose Mari Antunez admitted as much in a Senate inquiry last July 2009. And the SEC papers of Smartmatic-TIM’s holding company, 1920 Business Inc., reflect the same.

Such sale or transfer should mean that 1920 BI has taken over TIM’s interest in the AES Contract but Comelec continues to refer to the contractor as Smartmatic-TIM.

By virtue of the sale of TIM to 1920BI, SI now owns a total of 56 percent of the original STC, 40 percent as SI in the original STC, plus another 16 percent of 1920BI (40 percent of the 40 percent of 1920BI). This makes the original STC, now supposedly S1920BI Corporation (as opposed to STC). Thus, the new S1920BI is a FOREIGN-OWNED Company.”

This, plus other irregularities must be answered being violations of the Philippine Constitution. If not, then it is a clear example of the impunity of those who were in charge of the election. It is a stab at the heart of constitutional democracy. We must not allow it.

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers.

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