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Melo denies leaking SC ruling on automation

Posted on: September 11, 2009

Melo denies leaking SC ruling on automation

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 18:50:00 09/10/2009

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Judiciary (system of justice), Elections, Politics

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose Melo denied allegations that he had leaked the unpromulgated decision of the Supreme Court that upheld the automation of the elections in May 2010.

On Thursday, lawyer Harry Roque, convener of Concerned Citizens’ Movement, filed a motion to investigate Melo for “contempt of court” for allegations of premature disclosure of the supposed 11-3-1 vote by the high tribunal that denied the petition also by Roque to nullify the agreement between the Comelec and Smartmatic-Total Information Management.

Melo said that when he gave the comments on Tuesday afternoon to the media, including the INQUIRER.net, he was under the impression that the news had been spread and that he was merely reacting to the ruling.

“How can I leak something [decision] which I did not have? Apparently, when the news about the SC [Supreme Court] voting on the petition was circulating within the media at around 1p.m. alam na ng press [the press knew about it] even before the news reached me when I was presiding over the en banc meeting on Tuesday,” said Melo.

Melo added that in the middle of Tuesday’s en banc meeting which he presided, Supreme Court reporter Jomar Canlas texted him before 1p.m., saying: “11-3-1 approved ang poll automation [11-3-1 poll automation has been approved].”

But at that time, Melo’s mobile phone had been left with his secretary since 10 a.m. to avoid being interrupted during the meeting. He claimed that he did not know about Canlas’ message until Professor Renato Garcia, consultant and Comelec Advisory Council member, told him about the radio reports.

“During the meeting, I was told by our consultant Prof. Renato Garcia about the results aired over radio reports. I then required my chief of staff and secretary to get a copy of the resolution. They were told it cannot be promulgated yet because they are still awaiting the dissenting opinion from the three justices. But definitely there was a voting as what SC told them when they inquired,” said Melo.

Melo added that he also received a text message from Tribune reporter Marie Surbano, apologizing for the slant in her published article Wednesday, which claimed that Melo leaked the high court ruling.

Quoting the text message, Melo said: “Gud am po. Si Mari Surbano po Daily Tribune. Pasensiya na kayo sa twist ng story it is Benjie Pulta our SC reporter. Message sent, 3:52p.m. Wednesday [Good a.m., Sir. This is Mari Surbano of Daily Tribune. I apologize for the twist in the story. It was Benjie Pulta, our SC reporter. Message sent, 3:52 p.m. Wednesday].”

Asked of the chances that the Supreme Court would require him to comment on the motion for contempt filed by Roque and of the motion for reconsideration to be filed on the ruling, Melo said that the tactics of Roque were “not well thought [of].”

“I don’t think the SC will require me to comment on this motion for contempt because in the first place I did not leak the voting results. As for the chances of the MR to be considered, that is very nil because the SC will not change its decision once issued.”

Melo said preparations for automation with provider Smartmatic-TIM have gone full-blast, with the first batch of 20 development sets of poll machines to be delivered in November.

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