Poll watchdog: We want Comelec intel data
MANILA, Philippines – The watchdog Automated Elections Systems Watch on Tuesday, July 30, said it will ask the Court of Appeals (CA) to compel the poll body to reveal intelligence data it had gathered that supposedly became the basis for calling AES Watch and allies "election saboteurs."
In a press conference, AES Watch lawyer Harry Roque said Commission on Elections (Comele) chair Sixto Brillantes Jr should be made to appear in court next month to give details on how P30 million in intelligence funds were spent during the recent election period.
AES Watch also wants Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte to appear in court since she admitted that such fund was indeed released.
"We are asking Comelec to release whatever information they've gathered, using the intel fund, that became their basis in concluding that AES Watch [members] are election saboteurs. We're also asking the Supreme Court to release that information, as it might help end threats to our security and privacy," Roque added, who is also among the petitioners.
AESWatch earlier sought a court order directing Comelec "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."
The group alleged that the Comelec was spying on them for being critics of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) technology used in the 2013 elections.
The Supreme Court referred the case to the CA.
The CA has set for August 5, at 2 pm, the marking of evidence. Hearings will be on August 20, 22, 27, September 3, and 10, each time at 10am.
AES Watch will be presenting in court former Comelec commissioner Gus Lagman, who admitted receiving intelligence funds during his time in the poll body but later returned them.
Lagman said he received 3 checks amounting to P200,000, P800,000, and P250,000 between August to December 2011, and was told the the funds were confidential.
He added that the poll body's chief accountant and finance director asked him to sign a liquidation form, with all expenses already listed, even though he hasn't spent the money.
"[The liquidation form has] a short paragraph saying I spent the money. I already forgot the items listed there, but I didn't really used the money, so I said I'll just return it," Lagman said.
Brillantes already denied spending any money to conduct surveillance on the activities of AES Watch. Even the Solicitor General denied that the said fund was used to spy on AES Watch. – Rappler.com