'Comelec men benefited from delayed poll deliveries'
MANILA, Philippines - A Commission on Elections official on Monday said a special fact-finding committee should investigate Comelec personnel who conducted deliveries of election materials to various municipalities during Monday's barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls, instead of relying on forwarders.
Atty. Ferdinand Rafanan, Comelec bids and awards chairman, said delays in the deliveries of the poll materials led to the postponement of elections in more than 2,000 barangays last Monday.
Rafanan said he has a list of all the employees who made personal deliveries of election paraphernalia to the precincts instead of relying on the freight forwarders who had won the contracts to deliver the poll materials. He said Comelec men who used private forwarding companies to deliver the poll materials themselves were given cash advances.
"Meron kasing cash advance. They will deliver and not the forwarders so there is a little money being paid. The deliveries were not included with the other shipments of the forwarders," he said in a radio dzMM interview.
He said at least one forwarder complained that the election materials he was supposed to deliver were lacking and that other people had to make the deliveries.
"This means that the [payment] he is supposed to get could be lower. Mabuti kung bawas e baka nabayaran siya ng buo while the others who also delivered were also paid," he said.
Rafanan said the Comelec en banc had already issued a resolution banning the practice in previous elections but it was revived because of the delays in deliveries. He also pointed out that he is not a member of Comelec's packing and shipping committee and that Director Rey Doma of Comelec's Administrative Services department is in a better position to explain the process on the deliveries.
Rafanan said he does not know what violations could be leveled against Comelec men who purposely delayed the deliveries of the poll materials.
"Maybe negligence, napabayaan lang. Mahirap isipin (that they did it deliberately)," he said.
The Comelec on Tuesday formed a factfinding body to investigate the cause of delays in the delivery of election paraphernalia to polling precincts Monday.
Comelec Commissioner Armando Velasco will lead the 7-member panel, which will investigate rumors that several Comelec officials were involved in a plot to delay the delivery of election paraphernalia.
He said he will be calling everybody who in one way or another had something to do with the election process starting with the bids and awards committee, the forwarders responsible for delivering the election paraphernalia, members of the administrative services department, and the members of the packing and shipping committee.
He said the committee will also look at the contracts of the forwarding companies.
Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said the commissioners are aware of talk that several Comelec personnel could be behind the late deliveries and allegedly messing up the the packaging of supplies so as it would not be included in the shipments of the forwarders.
For his part, Rafanan said the bids and awards committee cannot be blamed for the delays since some of the procurement orders already came late.
"There was a delay in the giving of instructions on what to procure. Once it was given to us, for example, September 20 for the ballot paper...that's only 35 days before the elections," he said.