By Joseph Tristan Roxas | GMA News Online
A former congressman filed a graft complaint against Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Christian Robert Lim over an alleged P240-million "midnight deal" he entered with automated election service provider Smartmatic-TIM Corporation for the May 2016 elections.
In his complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, former Biliran City representative Glenn Chong accused Lim of graft and corruption when the poll official, acting as Comelec negotiator, proceeded with the negotiations between Comelec and Smartmatic through direct contracting instead of a competitive public bidding for the refurbishment of more than 80,000 precinct count optical scanners (PCOS).
"Comelec failed to prove that direct contracting is the legal way to do it. Kasi P240 million yung contract that was supposed to be given to Smartmatic. Walang bidding yun and it was Christian Lim who privately negotiated with Smartmatic," Chong said in an interview with reporters.
He said that Lim's push for direct contracting with Smartmatic is "manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government" since Comelec would have received a better quality of service for the national polls at a better price if the contract went through normal procurement rules.
"Respondent cannot feign ignorance of the facts and circumstances surrounding the problems and anomalies of the PCOS machines before and after the 'midnight deal' in question because he actively took part and even defended Smartmatic-TIM Corporation in the several [congressional] hearings on these issues," the complaint read.
Chong said his complaint is a "follow-up" to the graft and plunder charges that former Negros Oriental representative Jacinto Paras filed at the Ombudsman last year over the same anomalous deal. Paras joined Chong in the filing on Monday.
Meanwhile, Chong said he hopes the complaints would pave the way for the filing of a verified impeachment complaint against Lim by the Ombudsman for betrayal of public trust.
Asked why he went to the Ombudsman instead of the House of Representatives, Chong said this would be the Ombudsman's chance to prove its impartiality amid accusations of dishing out selective justice.
"I prefer to go to the Ombudsman. That's the mode that I see is best because in this case, the Ombudsman is also under the charge of selective justice. Sinasabi na the Ombudsman is guilty of selective justice, now I want to give the Ombudsman the opportunity to prove that it is not guilty of selective justice," he said.
Chong, meanwhile, tagged Lim as a "yellow" because was a lawyer of the Liberal Party (LP).
Yellow is the color associated with former ruling Liberal Party.
"Commissioner Lim is a lawyer of the Liberal Party before he became a commissioner, so he is 'yellow.' Let's see if the Ombudsman will act on this complaint," Chong said.
Lim once served as a member of Bantay Balota, the election watchdog of the LP, during the election campaign of then-presidential candidate Benigno Aquino III and vice presidential candidate Mar Roxas in 2010.