September 13, 2012
TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW AFTER THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON FINANCE HEARING ON THE COMELEC 2013 BUDGET
(1) Cayetano warns Comelec on possible scenarios of electoral cheating in the upcoming 2013 elections
ASC: First and foremost, our goal is to prevent the revenge or the comeback of election syndicates. Supposedly, we got rid of these syndicates in Comelec who are responsible for electoral cheating in the past when we switched to an automated form of elections. However, I pointed out three things that is quite alarming awhile ago during the budget hearing.
(National Printing Office)
One is that the National Printing Office, that we encountered problems with in the past due to over-printing of authentic ballots that were given away and used by these syndicates, (1) the bid was awarded to them to print the ballots for 2013 elections; (2) and when the oversight committee inspected their process, hindi maganda security nila.
I am not accusing the officers of the NPO. I am just saying that if one corporation is awarded to handle the elections and its name and reputation is at stake, chances are they would put more effort in securing the printing of the ballots.
We still have not passed into law the Whistleblowers Act. Mahirap na magkaroon ng confidence na hindi babalik ang mga sindikato sa dating gawi kasi dati dito talaga nila kinukuha yung sobrang mga balota. It's stale in the sense that these are additional ballots but it's authentic in the sense that the ballots came from the same printer
(Turnover of election materials)
Number two, dati private company din ang nagdedeliver ng mga tinatawag na mga accountable documents. Ang responsibilidad sa pag-turnover sa mga cities, provincials, municipal treasurers all over the country ngayon ibinalik uli nila sa Comelec. Meaning, kung meron kang sindikato in the Comelec, not only do they have excess ballots, they can also be the ones to deliver these ballots.
(Transmission of Results)
Pangatlo, dati sabay- sabay ita-transmit sa municipal or city level, sa Comelec central office at saka sa KBP o sa election watchdogs. Kanina inamin nila, tinatanggal nila yung pag-transmit sa KBP, ang sabi nila from the Comelec nalang kukunin para opisyal; at ang excuse nila kanina dahil daw nagkakaiba yung transmission.
Kung nagkakaiba yung transmission, may problema tayo sa automation kasi isa lang ang tina-transmit. Three times lang tina-transmit. Para kang nagpadala ng text to three people with the same text. Hindi dapat umiba yung mensahe ng transmission.
So, I am really concerned that we are being lulled into complacency expecting that since we had a successful automated 2010 elections, the same success will also be guaranteed for the 2013 elections and that we need not worry about the possibility of cheating. But actually, the way the Comelec is bidding out the needs of the 2013 automation, it is opening up old loopholes that allow syndicate to come in.
(2) Cayetano dissects Comelec budget: From extravagant Baguio Cottages to overpriced PCOS warehouse bidding, what else are you hiding?
Secondly, kung noong una ay natuklasan natin na bale wala ang 90,000 para sa isang kama sa Comelec, ngayon naman natuklasan natin na over 400 to 500 pesos per square meter for a warehouse outside Metro Manila ay bale wala sa Comelec.
We also found out that an Executive Director or a Project Head can appropriate 400 million without the authority of the en banc. Narinig natin sa mga Commissioners na sabi nung Chairman, inapprove na yung 400 Million, pero sabi ng mga Commmissioners pinag-uusapan pa lang.
Nagtataka ako kung bakit dati okay lang sa kanila year by year yung bidding pero ngayon ang gusto nilang bidding eh 40 months. But that 400 Million can put up two or three of those warehouses that they plan to rent.
I am asking the Comelec to review its budget again. Bawat singko ay importante dahil pera ng bayan ito. The way they are spending money, it is as if the government has so much funds that any of these will not be a problem.
In the next hearing I will show that their automation budget being asked from DBM for next year is even more expensive than the 2010 automation budget despite buying the PCOS machines already. At the end, their budget presentation open more questions than answers.
Ang hinanda nilang justification is that kung 112 million dati, or almost 10 Million a month, wala naman daw problema yun kasi ginawa nang 40 months from 12 months. Ang pino-point out ko sa kanila, sino ba nagsabi sa kanila na okay lang yung 112 million?
They are saying that the huge amount also covers additional configurations needed in the warehouse. For example, the CCTVs. We all know that three years ago CCTVs are expensive but now, there are cheaper kinds available in the market. They only need 33 pieces anyway.
Nagtataka rin naman ako na sa public bidding na ito, isa o dalawa lang ang nagbi-bid ng warehouse sa buong Pilipinas. But of course, you will not bid kung hindi ka sure na mananalo ka. Pero andami nating raw land sa Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Quezon na mabibili for 500 to 1,000 per square meter.
Kung bumili ka ng 20,000 square meter o kahit na sobrahan mo pa 25,000 per square meter that's only 25 Million. Tapos less than 10, 000 pesos per square meter naman pagawa sa warehouse. Kapag ordinary building kasi ngayon 10,000-20,000 per square na.
I mean, building na yon, hindi warehouse lang na pataas lang at saka bubong ang gagawin. That's why I asked the Chairman to look at the contracts nung 2010 dahil ang COA mismo ang nagsabi even sa transportation, sa communications, may mga comment sila about 2010 na pwedeng mas mura o mas secured.
But it looks like na imbis na hinihigpitan ng Comelec mas lalong lumuluwag. So, in the next hearing may one or two items pa tayo ibi-bring up -same case din: Why spend more when you can spend less. And why are you satisfied with 'okay lang' na pwede naman high quality and highsecurity ang kunin.
Reporter: What is the issue with Director Jose Tolentino?
ASC: 400 million pesos pa rin yung allowed na amount pero makikita mo naman sinabi ng kanilang executive director na on his own inincrease niya ang budget para dito sa warehouse nang walang official authority from the Comelec en banc.
Unang una kung ginawa niya yon, maling mali yon. Pero pangalawa, hindi ako maniniwala na kahit sinong Executive Director ay magtatapang- tapangan na from 112 Million, ay gagawin niyang 400 Million ang allotment sa isang proyekto nang siya lang mag-isa ang nagdesisyon.
Reporter: Nagalit po kayo kay Dir. Tolentino kanina?
ASC: The reliable information that I got is that the Chairman ordered them to increase (the amount) to P400 million. That's why one can see that when I asked him, he was very confident (in saying) na pinayagan daw ito ng En Banc, pero walang resolution ang En Banc.
And I heard from a very reliable source na pinipilit ng Chairman na magkaroon ng resolution. That's why when I asked Commissioner Sarmiento, we all saw how they tried to get away with the answer "We discussed it." Pero sabi ko, iba 'yung nag-discuss, doon sa nagkasundo kayo.
Noong huli, inamin din niya (Sarmiento) at ni Comm. Tagle na hindi sila nagkasundo to increase it to P400 million. What kind of bidding will we have ngayon na bini-bid na nila for P400 million pero subject for the approval pa daw ng Comelec?
Paano kung may manalo tapos hindi pala gusto ng En Banc (ang P400 million)? Ide-deny nila 'yung P400 million tapos umpisa nanaman sa P112 million? Kalokohan 'yon. I don't think that's the way bidding is supposed to be conducted. Precisely why you tell the bidders what's up for bidding is for them to know and be able to predict and compute their cost.
Reporter: Ano daw ang reason kung bakit ganoon ang decision ni Brillantes?
ASC: Dine-deny ni Executive Director (Tolentino) na inutusan siya. Dine-deny niya so lumalabas sa statements niya na hindi inutos ito ni Chairman. But I don't believe that the whole SBAC (Special Bids and Awards Committee), will increase it from P112 to P400 million without the Chairman or the En Banc telling them to do so.
Reporter: What does this anomalous warehouse bidding plus extravagant purchases all say about chairman Brillantes?
ASC: He's gung-ho about contracts. They're more interested in bidding out things rather than the security and quality and in saving money.
Reporter: So ang problema natin, una, for P112 million or P400 million, you think it's costly. And then they extended it to a period of 40 months.
ASC: P112 million is more than P400/square meters for a warehouse outside Metro Manila is already about times two or times three of the going rate. Secondly, the justification they're giving is that naging 40 months naman ito, If it's overpriced for 12 months, it's still overpriced for 40 months.
Ang basis ko ay 'yung COA sa sinabi nito noong nirenovate nila (Comelec) 'yung office nila ngayon--kung bakit hindi na lang daw bumili. So I'm asking the same question now, did they even look into buying land and putting up their own warehouse? Because if it will cost half, saving the country P200 million is a big thing.
Reporter: Do you buy 'yung reason nila na may other services kasi?
ASC: That's why I asked them to present that next week. Pero katulad nung so far na nakita ko, ang CCTV, ngayon may mabibili na sa $200 to 300. Digital na 'yun, hindi analog. So even if you compute it at P10,000 or P20,000 per camera, 33 cameras will only cost P330,000 to P660,000. Not even a million pesos.
Kaya kahit saan mo tingnan ang services, napakamahal. That's why I compared it to the rental of offices in Fort Bonifacio. Kasi sa Fort Bonifacio, between P500-P1000 per square meter ang usual na presyo. Wifi na 'yon, may CR, may aircon and everything. May security guards pa 24 hours.
Saan ka nakakita na 'yung presyo ng warehouse at presyo ng upscale commercial and business rental will be the same? Mas mahal pa nga kung tutuusin ang isang warehouse sa presyong ipinapakita ng Comelec.
Reporter: Kung hindi kayo ma-satisfy sa magiging explanation nila sa next hearing, ano ang legislative action ninyo?
ASC: Ang manifestation ko kanina, why give them the money? Nakita na kasi natin na every year, ang laki ng savings nila tapos pinalulusutan tayo nang ganoon. Meaning, kung ang tingin natin, kaya naman i-warehouse ng 40 months for P200 million, bakit natin pipilitin ng P400 million?
Maniwala kayo sa akin, kapag ni-limit mo ang pera, gagawan nila ng paraan. Unang-una, magandang kontrata 'yon. Sino ang may-ari ng warehouse na ayaw kumita ng 5-10 million a month? May kukuha niyan. Kaya walang kumukuha ngayon, kasi ang tingin nila, luto 'yung bidding doon.
Reporter: So hindi ibibigay sa kanila ang budget na hinihingi nila?
ASC: They have to justify it. Sabi ng Pangulo at ni Sec. Abad, zero based budgeting tayo. Meaning, hindi mo ia-assume ang budget nila last year at ibibigay mo. Ico-compute mo lang kung ano ang kailangan nila. So gusto kong kwestyonin diretso, kailangan ba nila ng P400 million for 40 months for a warehouse, or can we give them much less and let them find someone with the same quality?
Ang isang problema kasi dito noong binid-out sa Smartmatic ito, buong service. Ang Smartmatic mayroong kontratang pagkakakitaan, mayroon din na malulugi sila. Pero may pangalan silang poprotektahan. Kaya ngayon, chinop-chop nila. Ang problema natin ngayon 'yung presyo at 'yung accountability,. Kasi kapag sa chop-chop, may accountability lahat 'yan.
Halimbawa, nakita natin sa Hello Garci, ibang eleksyon, ayaw ng Comelec na kinakasuhan 'yung sarili nilang tao. Kaya paano ngayon kung may sobrang balota, at paano ngayon kung may sindikato at mag-deliver ng sobrang balota? Hindi ba? Hindi nila basta kakasuhan ang sarili nilang tao. Unlike kung private corporation 'yan, kahit sino, pwede magdemanda.
I'm not saying Smartmatic is perfect, and I'm not even lobbying for them. There could be other groups. What I'm saying is that the kind of automation na ginagawa nila sa 2013, ibang-iba sa 2010. Kaya dapat bukas-mata tayo dito kasi baka mabulaga tayo sa dayaan na pwedeng mangyari.
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