Ex-poll exec wants Smartmatic barred from 2025 AES bidding

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File photo

FORMER poll commissioner Augusto Lagman is pushing to prevent Smartmatic Philippines Inc. from once again becoming the automated election systems (AES) service provider of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the May 2025 midterm polls.

In a 10-page petition, Lagman and three other petitioners asked the Comelec to disqualify Smartmatic from joining the forthcoming public bidding for the election system to be used in the 2025 polls.

"As the winning bidder in all the previous automated elections since 2010, petitioners expect Smartmatic to again participate in the bidding process for the 2025 National and Local Elections Automation Project," said the petitioners.

"The Honorable Commission, as the Head of the Procuring Entity, should instruct/order the BAC (Bids and Awards Committee) to disqualify or declare ineligible Smartmatic from participating in the procurement for the 2025 Automated Election System," they added.

Lagman and company said declaring Smartmatic ineligible to participate is necessary since the May 2022 AES was attended by "serious and material irregularities," particularly in the transmission and reception of election results.

"Based on information and data coming from the Honorable Commission itself, petitioners have discovered serious irregularities in the automated election system, which Smartmatic had provided and deployed during the 09 May 2022 elections, involving discrepancies between the transmission logs and reception logs of election returns from the precinct level to the Honorable Commission's Transparency Server," they said.

"These material discrepancies, which remain unexplained to date, constitute a violation of the minimum system capabilities required by law and have created serious doubts on the integrity of the entire election process," added the petitioners.

In particular, the petitioners questioned the improbability of the number of votes being received by the Transparency Server (TS) immediately after the close of voting last May 9, 2022.

"The Transmission and Reception Logs for the TS do not match. The TS was receiving and counting more votes than what the Voting Counting Machines (VCMs) were transmitting from 7 p.m. to at least 9 p.m. on 09 May 2022," they said.

"This is highly improbable for 20M+ votes to be transmitted by some 39,512 VCMs within the first hour, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. of 09 May 2022 given all tasks required to be done by the Electoral Boards in the Comelec General Instructions prior to transmittal," added the petitioners.

Lagman served as Comelec Commissioner from 2011 to 2012 and has been an ardent critic of Smartmatic.

The other petitioners are the members of the Truth & Transparency Trio (TNTrio), composed of former Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) secretary Eliseo Rio, retired Colonel Leonardo Odoño, and former Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines president Franklin Ysaac.

Sought for the Comelec’s comment on the petition, Chairman George Garcia believes it is still "premature" to seek the disqualification of a potential bidder in the 2025 AES.

"My answer, at this point, is it's premature. But, surely, this item will be included in our next en banc agenda," said Garcia in a message to reporters.

In May, the Comelec announced its plan to use a new automated election system beginning in the May 2025 midterm polls. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)


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