Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Comelec chief to ‘perfect’ automated polls vs fraud

Newly appointed Commission on Elections chair Sixto Brillantes on Sunday said he aims to “perfect" automated elections during his term to totally eradicate election fraud in the country.

“During the first national automated elections, the Comelec resolved a number of election problems. We just need to perfect the automated election system to see that election fraud is absolutely obliterated," Brillantes said in an interview Sunday with GMANews.TV.

Brillantes, a renowned poll lawyer, said he is confident he can wipe out electoral fraud and corruption as he is “familiar with various poll problems" plaguing the country.

Alam ko ang mga problema at ang mga tao sa Comelec. Change of status lang ito," he said, referring to his experience as an election lawyer, which he intends to bring into his post. 

Automated polls, ‘new problems’

On Sunday, party-list Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said that as the new Comelec chair, Brillantes should look into the ghosts of election fraud over the past decade.

“For the longest time, Comelec has been perceived as one of the most corrupt government agencies because of the conduct of its officials. Now is a good time to begin the process of cleaning up Comelec," Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said in a statement.

According to Reyes, the new Comelec chairman should look into the involvement of the poll body's officials in the rigging of the 2004 elections, as well as various irregularities and anomalies in the approval of contracts for election paraphernalia.

The problems that beleaguered last year's automated polls and the questionable groups and nominees that participated in the party-list elections should also be looked into, he added.

Reyes pointed out that the automated polls have not stamped out election problems. "New problems arose even as many old problems persisted," he said.

"Attorney Brillantes is known for his expertise on election laws. Malaking bagay para sa Comelec ang knowledge niya. We will guide him how to work in the government," Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, the most senior official in the poll body, said in a separate interview with GMANews.TV.

To assume post Monday

On Saturday night, Brillantes disclosed that he was named as Comelec's new chief. Brillantes expects to formally assume his new post Monday replacing Jose Melo, who resigned from his post effective Saturday.

Radio dzBB reported that his apparent closest rival to the post had even backed out of the race; Romulo Macalintal, had asked to remove his name from the list of prospects.

Macalintal wrote President Benigno Aquino III a letter, saying he decided not to seek the top Comelec post because of his family, dzBB said.

But Macalintal stressed he is still ready to help in election-related matters.

Last week, Macalintal and Brillantes both expressed readiness to take the post, even as they downplayed speculations they are pawns of two factions in Malacañang.

Macalintal was perceived to have the backing of the "Balay" group of former Sen. Manuel Roxas II while Brillantes was said to be backed by the rival "Samar" group. – MRT/VS, GMANews.TV

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