High Court wants answers on Comelec’s intel fund

The Automated Election System (AES) Watch has alleged that election officials were spying on them for being critics of the technology used in the 2013 polls

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Tuesday, July 16, referred to the appeals court the case filed by an election watchdog against Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr and other officials of the Commission on the Elections (Comelec) over their alleged use of a P30-million intelligence fund.

In a press briefing, Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te said that the Court issued a Writ of Habeas Data, which “will prompt the procedure for the submission of a verified return, which essentially means the answer of the respondents.”

The case being sent to the Court of Appeals involves allegations by the group Automated Election System (AES) Watch that the Comelec was spying on them for being critics of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) technology used in the 2013 elections.

According to the SC Public Information Office, the AES Watch in its petition claimed that the Comelec officials “violated their right to privacy in life, liberty, and/or security through gathering, collecting, or storing data or information regarding person, family, home and correspondence.”

The petitioners sought of an order directing the respondents “to permanently cease and desist from further gathering information about AES Watch and its allied organization using the P30 million intelligence funds provided by President Benigno Aquino III and by other sources to the Comelec.”

They asked for the High Court to order the respondents to disclose and subsequently destroy or permanently seal “whatever information already gathered about the petitioners and other members of AES Watch.”

The petition also asked that the Comelec be prevented from using the information “to prosecute critics of the PCOS automated elections technology suite for election sabotage and other offences.” 

Te said that upon the submission of the return, the Court may then conduct a summary hearing and then render judgment within 10 days from submission of the decision. – Rappler.com

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