Supreme Court: Voting machines purchase ‘valid’-A A +A
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC) affirmed Tuesday the validity of the P1.8-billion contract between the Commission and Elections (Comelec) and Venezuelan firm Smartmatic for the procurement of 80,000 units of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) to be used in the 2013 elections.
In its full-court session, the High Court denied with finality the motion for reconsideration (MR) filed by Automated Election System Watch (AESW), an election watchdog led by former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. to stop the Comelec and Smartmatic from proceeding with the purchase contract.
A copy of the resolution has yet to be released by the Court en banc.
The SC, in its June 13, 2012 decision, dismissed the argument of AESW that the period for the option to purchase (OTP) the machines under the automated election system (AES) contract already expired after December 31, 2010, and Comelec's decision to still exercise this option is tantamount to giving Smartmatic a special privilege, which was not known and extended to all other bidders during the bidding of the 2010 AES.
The court also said that since, the performance bond worth P360-million paid by Smartmatic has not been returned by Comelec to signify the termination of the contract.
The amount represents five percent of the automation contract, which would shoulder any penalties to be incurred by the consortium should it fail to deliver the equipment based on contract schedules or for non-performance.
In its MR, AESW claimed that the intention of the parties to the AES contract is for the OTP to have a definite period for its exercise, which was on December 31, 2010, thus, the deed of sale executed by Smartmatic and Comelec, was illegal.
Aside from AESW, other petitions seeking to nullify the Comelec-Smartmatic contract were Davao City Archbishop Fernando Capalla, together with former Marawi City mayor Omar Ali, former Quezon City representative Mary Anne Susano, and Solidarity for Sovereignty led by Ma. Linda Montayre. (JCV/Sunnex)