THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) asserted Wednesday that there are no grounds yet to cancel their deal with a logistics provider with ties to a businessmen close to President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Comelec Spokesperson James B. Jimenez said the poll body did not find any conflict of interest in the contract with F2 Logistics, which is linked to Dennis A. Uy, adding that the company had the lowest bid for the delivery deal.
“There would have to be a violation of terms of conditions of the contract. There would have to be some sort of violation by F2, or a change in circumstances all of a sudden that there is no need in the Comelec for the contract, I suppose a case can be made for rescission then,” he said in an ANC interview.
Poll watchdogs and critics have urged the Comelec to cancel their delivery contract with F2 Logistics to ensure that there is no conflict of interest with the ruling administration.
“Do we really entrust the ballots, vote counting machines, and other election paraphernalia to Duterte’s top billionaire crony? The Filipino people must stop this deal and protect our votes,” said vice presidential candidate Walden F. Bello.
Mr. Uy, who is from the President’s hometown, was one of Mr. Duterte’s top campaign contributors in the 2016 presidential election, donating P30 million.
Mr. Jimenez also said in a tweet that the deal with the logistics provider will not affect election results as procedures are in place to ensure that vote counting machines (VCMs) are checked after delivery.
“After delivery, VCMs undergo final testing and sealing up to three days before election day, so… we know if the VCMs are working properly,” he said.
The poll body and F2 Logistics signed a contract on Oct. 29 for a delivery deal worth P536 million. The company will transport and store election supplies such as ballots and vote-counting machines for the May 2022 polls.
The logistics firm was also contracted for the 2018 Sangguniang Kabataan and barangay polls and the 2019 midterm elections.
“I think the logistics company has experience which is the reason why it qualified. There are standards that they met, which at least gives us an indication that there is a good chance that we have (confidence) that the contract is in very good hands,” Mr. Jimenez said.
Meanwhile, senatorial aspirant Jose Manuel “Chel” I. Diokno expressed confidence that an “overwhelming” number of votes for the opposition should thwart any attempt to rig the outcome of the May elections as concerns over Duterte-appointed commissioners arise.
Before the elections next year, Mr. Duterte will be appointing the replacement of the Comelec chairman and two commissioners who are due to retire and another who was not confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. The three other remaining commissioners are all Duterte appointees.
Mr. Diokno, however, said, the Comelec leadership could not possibly manipulate the poll outcome. “The more overwhelming the vote is, the harder it will be to cheat,” he said during a recent online town hall meeting with Negros-based multi-sectoral leaders.
“I don’t think they will be able to tinker with the outcome of an election,” he said. — Russell Louis C. Ku and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan