Ombudsman asked to probe Comelec’s Brillantes, et al, for their impeachment

Aside from the Office of the Ombudsman, the complainants are also set to prod Congress to conduct an inquiry into the recent elections.


MANILA – If the Ombudsman was able to do it to former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, it can do it as well to Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes, and commissioners Lucenito N. Tagle and Elias R. Yusoph. This is the hope of some lawyers, IT professionals, whistleblowers and conveners of election watchdog AES Watch. They trooped to the office of the Ombudsman Tuesday June 18 to file additional complaints to prod the ombudsman to probe the Comelec officials.

“Why did they remove the safeguards of automated elections, when these were already there?” Sr. Mary John Mananzan, AES Watch convener, asked. Jun Lozada, known whistleblower on ex-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s ZTE-NBN scam, also signed the supplemental complaints filed by individuals against the Comelec.

AES Watch conveners, lawyers, IT professionals urge Ombusman to probe  Comelec officials (Photo by M. Salamat /
AES Watch conveners, lawyers, IT professionals urge Ombusman to probe Comelec officials (Photo by M. Salamat /

“Automation is for speeding up processes,” Jun Lozada, told the media. But, he asked, what exactly did the Comelec speed up in an automated election that purposely removed various safeguards against cheating?

For impeachment?

Last week, the same group of individuals filed with the Office of the Ombudsman a criminal complaint against former Comelec chairman Jose Melo. The supplemental complaint they brought this week is asking the Ombudsman to investigate Brillantes and his Comelec, particularly Yusoph and Tagle, “because they’re the ones involved in the purchase and use of the PCOS machines,” Kontra Daya convener Fr. Jo Dizon told He explained that the probe they are seeking is in preparation for the filing of impeachment charges against the Comelec leaders.

Dizon said the pace in which the probe they are asking for would proceed depends on how the Ombudsman will respond to their filed complaints. Brillantes, Yusoph and Tagle are, according to AES Watch, culpable for impeachment.

AES Watch volunteer lawyers Rommel Bagares and Harry Roque said that while the incumbent Comelec commissioners may not be sued in a criminal proceeding, because of constitutional immunity, they may be subjected to an investigation by the Ombudsman for purposes of an impeachment proceeding.

The complainants invoked Ombudsman Act (Republic Act 6770), Section 22:

Investigatory Power — The Office of the Ombudsman shall have the power to investigate any serious misconduct in office allegedly committed by officials removable by impeachment, for the purpose of filing a verified complaint for impeachment, if warranted.

Bagares said the proceedings may also later on be turned into a criminal investigation, once the Comelec officials retire, resign, or are removed from office.

Asked how they expect the Ombudsman to react to their complaints, Bagares told they look at the Ombudsman as someone “with competence and integrity,” and besides, he added that “it’s their duty.”

“Why can’t we impeach Comelec commissioners? Just because they’re close to the president, it doesn’t mean they can’t be investigated or impeached,” lawyer Harry Roque told

The group also filed a complaint against Smartmatic, “because they conspired with the Comelec. We are asking them to return the money paid to them,” said Dizon.

Truth Commission on 2013 elections sought

Fr. Joe Dizon reiterated his group’s call for an independent fact-finding investigation or Truth Commission to look deep into the irregularities of the poll automation project. This would have to include, he said, the recent May 2013’s “questionable interference of Smartmatic technicians in the fixing of the tabulation of votes.” He said it resulted in highly erroneous counting of votes just a few hours after voting.

Aside from the Office of the Ombudsman, the complainants are also set to prod Congress to conduct an inquiry into the recent elections. The complaint they filed with the Ombudsman would also be brought to the attention of lawmakers.

The new complaint-affidavit they brought this Tuesday to the Office of the Ombudsman charged three incumbent Comelec officials for “supreme betrayal of public trust” by conspiring with Smartmatic executives for the purchase of highly-problematic 80,000 PCOS machines. These Commissioners, the complainants said, knew about the highly-questionable performance of the Smartmatic-supplied automated election system (AES) in the 2010 elections and that the Venezuelan company, being a non-owner of the technology, could not correct the program errors in preparation for the 2013 mid-term elections.

Conspiring with one another, the respondents removed the safeguards provided by law in implementing the AES “to the extreme prejudice of the electorate” and they made the same highly-questionable shortcuts taken by their predecessors thus “placing under serious cloud the sanctity and integrity of the May 13, 2013 mid-term elections,” the complainants said.

In the recent mid-term elections, some 18,000 PCOS machines failed to transmit election returns. There were also strong indications of program errors as transmitted votes overshot the number of voters forcing the Comelec to stop publicizing the canvassing results with just 40 percent of the COCs received.

“Winning senators” were proclaimed prematurely with just 20 percent of the COCs with Brillantes saying election results will be decided not by actual votes but by “projected votes,” read a part of their affidavit which they shared to the press.

Aside from Smartmatic executives led by Cesar Torres, a Venezuelan salesman, another non-impeachable respondents is Comelec executive director Jose M. Tolentino, Jr., among others. The complainants prayed that the non-impeachable Comelec officials be placed under preventive suspension “to save evidence from irretrievable loss and/or preserve evidence from irreparable damage” referring to faulty PCOS machines, ballots, and rewritable CF cards, among other election paraphernalia.

Lawyer Harry Roque told that in the end, they’re also hoping this same doubtful sort of automated elections will no longer be used in the 2016 presidential elections. (

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