Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Rogue Ombudsman

ROGUE OMBUDSMAN: I can only describe MERCEDITAS GUTIERREZ at this point as a complete and utter disgrace to the Office of the Ombudsman and the legal profession with her WHITEWASH of Ben Abalos and the Comelec Commissioners responsible for what the Supreme Court condemned in 2004 as a "glaring grave abuse of discretion by the Comelec" in illegally awarding a P1.2 billion peso contract for an automated counting system that did not meet the Comelec's own bidding and technical specifications. By completely absolving Abalos, Garcillano, et al, and the Tansipeks (or whoever their stinking, crooked cronies are in this MegaPacific Consortium), the Ombudsman is undermining the legal, moral and juridical authority of the Supreme Court. She is acting as a Rogue of Impunity and challenging the Court to do something. What the Supreme Court does about this atrocious slap-in-the-face and dirt kicked in for good measure, may determine the fate of the Rule of Law in this ill-fated jurisdiction, where it seems, there can no longer be any counting upon the usual expectations of a nominally civilized and orderly society, where a two-bit political appointee of an illegitimate, lying, cheating, President gets to diss the Supreme Court and throw its Decision back in its face, with a spit and a click of her heels.

TEDDY BOY LOCSIN meanwhile claims he would use the obsolete Optical Mark Reader based "automated computer system" whose contract was voided by the Court. I guess it's true that he is basically a computer illiterate. Dangerous and unfortunate for the public-- considering Rep. Locsin seems to have control of legislation to automate the elections. This also explains why he thinks "pilot projects" (such as automation in Makati in 2007) can hide the fact of his and the Congress' utter failure in this area. It's pitiful though, since he belongs to probably the smallest significant political party in the country, PDP-Laban, which has only four members: Teddy Boy Locsin, Makati Mayor Jojo Binay, and Senators Nene Pimentel and Serge Osmena. The latter two disagree with Teddy Boy on automation issues. Well, at least Serge Osmena understands the meaning of technology-independent system design. Teddy Boy should stick to writing speeches, maybe for La Gloria next. He should stay away from automation...he's only going to make a mess because he IS a technological cretin.

LAWYER Marichu Lambino makes a lot more sense than Teddy Boy Locsin on the matter. She makes the point that "good faith" is not an adequate defense for violations of the anti-graft and corrupt practices laws. Unlike Teddy Boy Locsin, who told Twink Macaraeg today he thought Merceditas Gutierrez made "a good decision" Atty. Lambino thinks she has erred and will run afoul of the Supreme Court.


postigo luna said...


I can't say I'm surprised at your reaction, and I can't blame you. In fact, I know alot of people share your opinion of this decision and of the Ombudsman herself. I'm assuming you've read the decision and seen nothing that would justify the ruling. But still, I feel obliged to point out that people seem to be making this a SC v. Ombudsman affair. I don't think it is. It's not unheard of in law for there to be varying dispositions for the criminal and civil aspects of a case. Also, a misinterpretation of the law doesn't necessarily a felony make. That's all the ombudsman is saying, as far as I can see. The ombudsman didn't touch the annulling the contract - only saying that there needs to be better proof that graft and corruption attended the transaction.

And i've asked you twice already, where is the proof of graft and corruption? And twice you've not answered. I hope you answer me this third time. At least 3 SC Justices didn't see any such proof. Are they also in GMA's pocket, then? And the petitioners had every chance to present this proof to the Ombudsman, but they squandered that opportunity. The way things stand, there is only one solid source of any allegation of graft and corruption: the Panganiban ponencia in ITFP v. COMELEC. Even Gus Lagman never raised the issue of corruption or graft - failure to observe bidding rules is not graft, after all, unless it is proven that there was manifest partiality towards one party or another. And Benipayo admitted that he erred when he said that the machines were over-priced. Maybe he's on GMA's payroll too?

With regard to the errors, didn't Panganiban himself make a big deal of the fact that no one proved to his satisfaction that most of the errors pertained to software, were easily remedied, and therefore not fatal? Well, the DOST said that. Not enough for him? Who would be authoritative enough? Some foreign expert? But who's to say that that foreign expert isn't in GMA's pocket as well? Or should we expect a prolonged duel of experts trotted out by both sides?

As to the .995/.9995 discrepancy, i suppose it really makes the COMELEC appear terribly incompetent to have overlooked a typo (because that's what the arguments seem to imply: that because everyone agreed to .995, the .9995 in the RFP was just a typo); and maybe the project implementors were brain-dead in that respect. But does it really manifest partiality towards the other bidder? Remember, there was at least one other bidder, so it'd be kind of a stretch to say that the bid specs were tailored to shut out all competition.

The way I see it, DJB, if you approach this situation objectively, you might see some point in the Ombudsman's decision. It rankles, of course, that the lords of the COMELEC seem to have acquired (gasp!) an ally.

Oh and, what is this 'defend the SC's integrity' movement that seems to be aborning? How many people actually made this big of a deal when the CA slapped a TRO on a Supreme Court order? What would you have the Ombudsman do? Only ask "how high?" when the SC tells it to jump? I guess not. I guess you would say that the Ombudsman should be faithful to the facts. And i would agree with you. However, and with all due respect, we will obviously disagree with what we can accept as factual facts in this case. And therein lies the problem.

Rizalist said...

It's not the facts, Postigo, any more but the moral of the story.

It's the end of the Comelec as we know it. That much is clear to me now.

This atrocity cannot stand, or the Republic itself cannot.

Merceditas Gutierrez is a name that will go down in the footnotes of history as among the utterly despicable among the tribe of lawyers.

As much as I can, I shall tell her story for posterity. She will not escape History's vast audience, or their derision and disdain!

Let the Devil take her!


Hi Dean, hi Postigo,

Re Postigo's take "Who would be authoritative enough? Some foreign expert? But who's to say that that foreign expert isn't in GMA's pocket as well?"

Why not ask foreign experts indeed, qualified experts in the field of election automation... Field in two sets from two different countries if necessary.

Rizalist said...

HB, Postigo, There is no big mystery to solve or invention required with regard to how one does software quality assurance in big complex projects like this. Banks and financial institutions deal with software and the various issues of specification, bidding,testing and implementation. It's a whole area of specialization called "SQA".

The ACS of 2004 was obsolete, from a pure techie point of view, probably in 1980! hehe. Sorry I used to make a living creating application software in mission critical situations, so I am full of disdain at people especially on tv who touch this thing and just make themselves look like fools.