Comelec commissioner in hot seat for China sabotage allegations

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Commission on Elections senior commissioner Christian Robert Lim was in the hot seat at a senate hearing, for alleging that China may be planning to sabotage the 2016 elections. Lim stood his ground.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – When Commission on Elections (Comelec) Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim arrived at the Senate on Thursday (September 17), he seemed ready to face a storm of questions.

At a house hearing on Wednesday, Lim said China may be planning to sabotage the 2016 elections – based on an intelligence report from an unnamed military source.

True enough, a member of a poll watchdog put him to task.

Maricor Akol of the Automated Election System Watch (AESWatch) said, “The statement of commissioner Lim was very careless.”

Akol added: “If it was an intelligence report, he should not have divulged it... There’s going to be an uproar in the diplomatic community."

Chinese embassy: Poll sabotage allegations not real

The Chinese embassy strongly denied Lim’s statement, calling it “sheer fabrication.”

The Armed Forces said they checked if there were such intelligence reports and found none.

But Lim stood his ground.

“I take objection to the word ‘careless.’ I was just being transparent,” said Lim.

Lim lashed back at those who called him careless, saying: “Kung 'yan ang gusto niyo, ayaw niyo ng transparent, mananahimik na lang ako.  I don’t know what’s your problem."

Comelec Chairman Andres “Andy” Bautista and Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel stopped the argument before it went out of hand.

They said it was not the topic of the joint congressional oversight committee’s hearing – which is about updates on Comelec’s preparations for 2016.

Bautista, however, did not confirm nor deny the poll sabotage allegations by Lim.

Comelec to move OMR factory from China to Taiwan

The Comelec reported that they are moving the factory for next year’s vote counting machines or Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) machines from China to Taiwan. This is to avoid possible complications from Manila’s maritime arbitration case against Beijing over the West Philippine Sea.

Pimentel, who heads the committee, said Lim may have said too much.

“Siguro he should not be commenting on diplomatic issues anymore. Nagkaroon ng scare to avoid made in China items. That’s not necessary,” Pimentel said.

But for Lim, he was just doing his job – to ensure the elections will be carried out properly. He added that the threat from China is real.

“They can always deny but this is the report and we’re really concerned about the Chinese situation,” said Lim.

Lim also said to better play the paranoid than compromise the elections.