by hands up!
On the heels of the controversial appointment of Iligan judge Muselin Macarambon to a vacancy at the Commission on Elections, a new scandal is brewing over a contract resigned chair Benjamin Abalos allegedly signed with a Philippine biotechnology firm to minimize spurious voting.
Hardly had the ink on Macarambon’s appointment papers dried when whistleblowers at the Comelec started pointing fingers at Abalos and Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez over the $659M deal with Philippine Newt Technologies Inc. (PNT). I tried but failed to reach the other commissioners yesterday.
A copy of the contract was released by Jimenez after complaints of ‘flying voters’ started to pile up over the recent barangay or village elections, where voters complained that neighbors were able to vote more than once. Others complained of dead people voting. But Jimenez explained that the old technology employed, swabbing indelible ink on a voter’s nail to prevent her/him from voting more than once, just didn’t work. “The cheats always found a more potent solvent to wash the mark off,” he said. Further, law-abiding voters also complained that the method was unhygienic and more importantly, destroyed expensive manicures, he said.
The PNT system is much simpler, Jimenez said. Right after a voter slips a ballot into the box, his right forefinger is cut off with a knife and the wound cannot escape notice in another voting precinct, he said. Because of the injectible protein invented and produced by PNT, the finger would regenerate before the next election. Also, Jimenez said, the cut portions would also serve to validate results in recounts requested by losing candidates.
The bone of contention, according to one of the whistleblowers, however, was that there was no guarantee that the fingers would grow back in time. She said she was party to clinical trials which showed that about 1 in 20, as a rule of thumb, did not grow back the appendage after two weeks.
As of press time, Mr. Harry Tu Co, CEO of PNT had explained to us that election inspectors could be relied upon to distinguish a fresh wound from gangrene. He also dismissed as highly speculative fears that the wayward limbs would grow into their owners clones.