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Military says Comelec report needs support

THE Commission on Elections’ disclosure that China might sabotage the 2016 presidential elections based on an “intelligence report” has yet to be validated, but it may not be discounted, the military said Thursday.

In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Restituto Padilla said they were surprised by the disclosure made by Commissioner Christian Robert Lim.

Oversight hearing. Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista (right) huddles with Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate Oversight Committee on Automated Elections, during a hearing on the poll body’s preparations for the May 2016 elections. EY ACASIO

He made his statement even as the Supreme Court ordered the Comelec to file its comments on the petition asking it to nullify Comelec Resolution 9980 mandating the issuance of a Notice of Award worth P6.2 billion to automated elections system provider Smartmatic-TIM for the lease of 70,977 Optical Mark Readers to be used in the 2016 national and local elections.

The high court also ordered the joint venture of Smartmatic-TIM Corp. and Jartech Inc. to file its answer to the petition in 15 days.

Lim said the intelligence report claimed that China was out to sabotage the Chinese-made Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS machines that the Comelec would be using in next year’s elections.

“This is the first time that the AFP received information on the matter and after checking with our concerned staff offices, we found out there is no report in our files to substantiate this. Hence, we could not comment on an issue we know nothing about,” Padilla said.

But high-level security officials said they were not discounting the possibility that China, through its cyber technologies, could sabotage the elections.

A source said they had “checked the transcript” of the supposed conversation of the election official and his or her “unofficial source” and they were still verifying.

“Comelec was very prudent about it and we think what it did was good,” the source said.

 “With this, you can be sure they are taking the necessary steps to ensure the integrity of our electoral process and that is what counts."

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