Monthly Archives: October 2015
- October 28, 2015
Under a Rule of Law the consequences of this act could be quite grim for the 2016 elections.
The Philippine Consul of Caracas, Venezuela is an Honorary Consul by the name of Atty. Andres Duarte Vivas who has served in that capacity for twenty-five years now. In a letter to the Philippine Ambassador to Mexico Catalino R. Dilem, Jr. Duarte wants “to go on record… respectfully requesting an investigation” regarding fraudulent acts committed by Smartmatic Corporation, the Venezuelan firm that illegally ran Philippine elections in 2010 and 2013, and may do so again in 2016. In his letter-complaint Duarte said that “in my 25 years as consular officer representing the Philippines such an event [the Smartmatic fraudulence] has never occurred [before].” Well, gardeners noted that there is always a first time.
The “through channels” journey of a piece of communication went this route, according to Gardener investigations. First, in a separate letter, Ambassador Dilem forwarded the contents of the Duarte complaint to the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs. The latter, through his Undersecretary and Chairman of the Overseas Voting Secretariat, former Ambassador and current DFA Undersecretary Rafael E. Seguis, wrote a letter to the COMELEC Acting Chairman Christian Robert S. Lim through Commissioner Al. A. Parreno, Commissioner-in-Charge of OFOV or the Office for Overseas Voters, respectfully forwarding Ambassador Dilem’s letter “with the subject Fraud Allegations Against Smartmatic” and the closing line, “For the COMELEC’s information and appropriate action.”
The way COMELEC has been so favorably treating Smartmatic to date seems to indicate that it threw the Foreign Service complaint against Smartmatic into a garbage bin where it really does not belong. Comelec Chairmen may change names – Brilliantes to Lim and Lim to Bautista – but the question remains: Why does COMELEC keep silent on the allegations of fraud and falsification lodged by no less than the Philippine Consul in Venezuela against Smartmatic Corporation? Is that silence “the appropriate action” called for by the Consular allegations? The act complained against is in the nature of an election crime over which the COMELEC has proper, if not exclusive, jurisdiction.
Ambassador Dilem made a five-point summary of the Honorary Consul General’s report and sent it to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs “for the Department’s appropriate action.”
Firstly, on 16th March 2015, “Smartmatic, through its representative Mr. Argishalei Briceno, submitted to PHCG [Philippine Honorary Consul General] Caracas 46 documents; and on 23rd March 2015, an additional 10 documents, all for notarization (acknowledgment).
“Prepared by the company’s legal counsel, Atty. Sergio Alluve, the documents were to be sent later to the PHL Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in connection with the bidding for certain electronic voting equipment to be used in the 2016 PHL national and local elections.”
Secondly, on 27th March 2015 Smartmatic was informed by PHCG Caracas “that the documents [which were quite lengthy] would be ready for release by 30 March 2015. Mr. Briceno, the company’s representative, requested the honorary consular post for the issuance of a certification stating that the documents were still in process, apparently to convince the COMELEC to grant Smartmatic an extension of time to submit the documents to them, as the bidding was scheduled to take place on 30 March 2015.
“For this purpose, Mr. Briceno provided PHCG Caracas with a draft of the requested certification printed with that post’s electronic seal for the review and signature of Consul General” Duarte Vivas.
Thirdly, without the honorary consular post’s prior knowledge and approval, Smartmatic sent to COMELEC a FRAUDULENT CERTIFICATION, with FORGED SEAL as well as the FORGED SIGNATURE of Atty. Duarte Vivas, “patterned after and hewing closely to the draft certification dated 27 March 2015 that was presented by Mr. Briceno” earlier for PHCG’s consideration. In his letter to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Dilem attached the forged and the authentic seal and logo for comparison purposes.
Fourthly, on 30th March 2015 Smartmatic’s legal director based in Panama, Mr. Chandler Molina, wrote PHCG Caracas apologizing “for any misunderstanding” and explaining that “the course of action taken by Smartmatic’s office in Venezuela relative to the requested certification was a regular ‘procedure’ of the company.” Incredibly, the legal director had just put it in black and white that their irregular action was a regular modus operandi of the company.
On this same date, Molina called Duarte to inform him that they had also engaged the services of the Philippine Honorary Consul of Panama city to process similar documents as those they had submitted in Caracas.
Fifthly, on 31 March 2015 the Philippine Consul in Caracas informed Smartmatic that their documents had now been processed for release. However, it was only on April 6th 2015 that Smartmatic retrieved the documents, “reinforcing Consul General, a.h. Duarte Vivas’s belief that Smartmatic had sent the fraudulent certification to the COMELEC after realizing that they were behind schedule in their compliance with the electoral authority’s bidding requirements.”
Duarte Vivas emphasizes that “the simple act of admitting to me that they had ‘reproduced’ the seal of the Consulate and my signature is a serious breach of documentary protocol. I respectfully request an investigation to clarify all these actions and events.”
Or is it wrong to state that the picture has just been clarified? The Foreign Service complaint against Smartmatic is now in the hands of the COMELEC. The COMELEC, however, is in the hands of a foreign invader, the Smartmatic Corporation, to which in 2010 and 2013 the COMELEC surrendered its exclusive role of running Philippine elections. FIN