Governance NewsJudicial NewsPart 4 News: General Business Environment

SC doesn’t stop Smartmatic deal

Tarra Quismundo, Tina G. Santos | Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:01 AM | Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

MANILA, Philippines–The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to respond to petitions seeking to stop its P300-million deal with Smartmatic-TIM (Total Information Management Corp.) for the diagnosis and repair of over 80,000 voting machines ahead of the 2016 elections.

The high court did not immediately issue a temporary restraining order or injunction against the contract, but instead ordered the Comelec to comment “within a nonextendible period of 10 days from receipt of notice.”

The court’s action was in response to consolidated petitions filed by Bishop Broderick Pabillo and the Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E) which sought to nullify the deal, saying the Comelec had committed a grave abuse of discretion in issuing Resolution No. 9922.

The Dec. 23, 2014, resolution gave Smartmatic the task of checking and repairing 82,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, which were first used in the 2010 elections.

In earlier statements, Pabillo denounced the Comelec’s decision to undertake a “direct contracting” of Smartmatic, instead of a public bidding.

Poll watchdog C3E, meanwhile, questioned the qualifications of Smartmatic, saying it had “deliberately and intentionally concealed a material fact in its qualification statements and violated its automation contract.”

The group said Smartmatic had failed to reveal that “…its supposed subsidiary, Jarltech, transferred the production of the PCOS machines” to another firm.

It said the company also “failed to comply with the provisions of its automation contract with the Comelec when it grossly misrepresented that it could provide the Comelec with a customized system, upgrades to and replacement of systems, because it was not the owner of the PCOS technology.”

Former Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes signed the contract with Smartmatic last Monday, just before he officially retired as Comelec chief, despite the opposition of poll watchdog groups.

Meanwhile, Brillantes on Tuesday said the diagnostics work on the PCOS machines would start this week, despite the petitions in the high court against the deal with Smartmatic.

“It’s already delayed as it is because of the noise,” said Brillantes. He said the diagnostics will start with the inspection and inventory of the 82,000 PCOS machines that are stored in a warehouse in Laguna.

After the diagnostics, Smartmatic will proceed with minor and major repairs, as well as the replacement of units, if needed, according to Brillantes. He said the project would take about five months.

Brillantes said the commission en banc still had to sit down and deliberate on whether they would opt for the second phase of the refurbishing project, which involves the upgrading of the voting machines.


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