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Comelec to ignore suits vs PCOS machines


05:24 PM May 5th, 2013


MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Sunday it would just ignore the lawsuit filed by civil society groups before the United Nations Committee on Human Rights over the use of the controversial precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in the upcoming balloting.

“Officially, we are not going to do anything with it. We will just disregard it since we are already too close to the elections to mind the AES Watch and their complaint to the UN,” said Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. in an interview with reporters.

Last week, civil society groups such as the Concerned Citizens Movement, Center for International Law and the Automated Election System Watch announced that it was filing a complaint against Comelec for failing to ensure the free expression of the will of voters in the 2010 elections by foregoing security measures and opting for the same system for the 2013 balloting.

The groups also cited the lack of a source code review in 2010 in their complaint.

Brillantes had branded the complaint as a mere “publicity stunt” by critics of the Comelec.

“Maybe because they cannot win here in our courts anymore, including the Supreme Court, that’s why they went to the UN. They can even go anywhere in the world if they want,” the poll chief had stated upon learning of the complaint.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said on Sunday the UN body would most likely dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction and the lack of legal personality of the petitioners who filed the lawsuit.

Macalintal pointed out that UN rules provided that it would only deal with issues brought before it after “all available domestic remedies have been invoked and exhausted in the matter, in conformity with the generally recognized principles of international law.”

“In the present case, petitioners have not resorted to available domestic remedies prior to filing their petition with the HR Committee,” noted the veteran election lawyer, adding that the complainants could have used local legal remedies such as local action before seeking international intervention.

Macalintal also pointed out that the UN body would only deal with state-to-state complaints or issues and would not concern itself with intra-state affairs. “Such as the manner in which elections are conducted, for to do so would already amount to encroachment of a State’s sovereignty,” he said.

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