Ally of Philippines' Duterte secures logistics deal for 2022 polls

MANILA, Aug 25 (Reuters) - A Philippine logistics company headed by an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte has secured a 1.61 billion pesos ($32.3 million) contract to transport equipment and ballots for the 2022 elections, the Commission on Elections said on Wednesday.

The contract awarded to F2 Logistics Inc, a freight and cargo firm chaired by tycoon Dennis Uy, raised alarm bells with poll watchdog Kontra Daya (Anti-Cheating), which said it could “compromise the integrity” of next year’s elections.

Uy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Commission on Elections approved the deal, which involves the transport of vote-counting machines, external batteries and accessories, ballots and transmission equipment, among other things, commission spokesman James Jimenez told reporters.

The commission did not comment on Kontra Daya’s concerns.

Uy was a contributor to Duterte’s 2016 election campaign and comes from Davao, the city where Duterte was mayor for 22 years.

Since Duterte came to power, Uy has embarked on a rapid business expansion, buying into the country’s largest natural gas field and clinching a deal to operate the country’s third telecom firm backed by China.

Duterte, who is not eligible to run for re-election, said on Tuesday he was running for vice- here next year, a move political observers and critics say was a backdoor to the presidency. here

“There is clearly something wrong with this picture that no amount of legal technicalities can debunk,” Danilo Arao, convenor of Kontra Daya, said of the contract.

Five of the six election commissioners are appointees of Duterte, while the poll body’s chairman was chosen by the previous administration but re-appointed by Duterte. (Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Nick Macfie)