Four charged over sale of jammers

Posted on April 27, 2013

FOUR PERSONS were yesterday slapped with criminal charges before the Department of Justice (DoJ) over the sale of signal-jamming devices allegedly to be used in the upcoming May 13 polls.

In a two-page complaint filed by the Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) of the Philippine National Police, Giovanni P. Dee-Tan, owner of Caloocan City-based Brand Philippine.Com, Inc. and Zollner International Merchandising, allegedly violated the Tariff and Custom Code and the E-Commerce law for selling devices that may be used to block the transmission of results from the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine.

Facing similar raps are Betsayda L. Buena, Matthew K. Mercado, and Rommel B. Ogo, who are all working for Ms. Dee-Tan in the said firms.

According to the complaint, the four were caught selling the illegal devices to a police officer who posed as a buyer during an entrapment operation on Thursday.

This was the first case filed by the ACG after the Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel "Mar" A. Roxas II ordered a crackdown on signal jammers to avoid possible disruptions in the transmission of election results.

On Thursday, Comelec chief Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr. warned that using the device is a criminal offense.

"Those who will be found operating jamming devices will face a jail sentence of seven to 12 years," he said.

Contingency plans have also been prepared in case of failure to electronically transmit poll data due to the use of jamming devices, said Mr. Brillantes.

"The CF (compact flash) card [which stores the vote results] can simply be taken from the machine and be transported to the municipal board," he said.

"If the CF card is stolen, we have a hard copy of results. The results will not be lost, it will only be delayed for one to two days," he added.

Gamaliel A. Cordoba, commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission, said other "service providers" will be tapped in areas with weak signal from telecommunication providers Smart Communications, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc.

"We will have service providers who will use a satellite in areas with weak signal," he said.

The country first used poll machines on a nationwide basis during the 2010 presidential elections. -- Daryll Edisonn D. Saclag