COMELEC-Smartmatic contract upheld by high court

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.27
On October 23, 2012, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled with finality that the contract between the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and Smartmatic-TIM Corp. for the counting machines to be used for the 2013 elections is valid. The contract, amounting to PhP 1.8 billion, is for the option to purchase (OTP) availed by the Comelec which is a component of its contract with Smartmatic for the 2010 automated elections.

Reports said that the majority of the SC justices maintained that the option to purchase is legal as this was forged while the contract between the poll body and Smartmatic was still in effect.

The SC denied the motion filed by the election group Automated Election System Watch (AES Watch) appealing the high court to impede the implementation of the contract. The ruling was signed by eleven SC justices.

AES Watch, headed by former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr., filed their motion on the ground that the contract for the 2010 elections between Smartmatic and Comelec expired on December 31, 2010, thus the exercise of the OTP, which is a component of that expired contract, is illegal. This position was consistent with the opinion made by the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB), an independent inter-agency body which formulates and interprets public procurement policies, on the OTP issue. Furthermore, the group emphasized that the technology for the 2013 automated elections should have been procured through public bidding, as provided for by the Government Procurement Reform Act (GPRA) RA no.9184, or the Procurement Law, considering the amount of the contract.

Other groups that opposed the implementation of the contract were Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla, former Marawi City mayor Omar Ali, former Quezon City congresswoman Mary Anne Susano, and Ma. Linda Montayre, head of Solidarity for Sovereignty.

(Various news sources)