Smartmatic disqualified from Comelec procurement

Smartmatic disqualified from Comelec procurement
File photo

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has disqualified technology provider Smartmatic from participating in all of the poll body’s procurement to “maintain the integrity” of the country’s electoral process.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia announced this in a post on X (Twitter) Wednesday afternoon, November 29, 2023.

“We disqualified Smartmatic to participate in all Comelec procurement…We have to maintain the integrity of our electoral process. Para sa Bayan,” he said.

Smartmatic had been the country’s provider of vote-counting machines since 2010, when the Philippines implemented the automated elections. Its participation in the country’s electoral process, however, was met with opposition, especially from the group of former Information and Communications Technology secretary Eliseo Rio Jr., who filed in June 2023 a petition seeking for Smartmatic’s disqualification.

Rio, former poll commissioner Augusto Lagman, retired Colonel Leonardo Odoño and former Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines president Franklin Ysaac said Smartmatic should be barred from joining the May 2025 midterm polls as Comelec’s automated election system (AES) service provider due to alleged irregularities in the 2022 polls.

"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," the petition stated.

Rio 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.

But Garcia said Wednesday, November 29, that Comelec’s decision to disqualify Smartmatic is not based on the petitioners’ allegations.

He also said that their decision is “immediately executory unless restrained.”

"We will do everything possible so that the voting experience will be of the highest standard and that is to ensure that democracy is alive, and your votes are protected, as well as the mandate is secured. Para sa bayan," he said Wednesday.

Garcia said earlier that whatever decision the Comelec will come up with, “it's a decision based on individual appreciation of the facts and the law, as applicable.”

He said in a social media post: “Ako personally, as the chairman of the commission, I can swear to everybody that I know the facts, I know the rules and the law, but in the final analysis, again, whatever is in the best interest of the people, of the country, that will be the decision of the commission.”

Reports said that Smartmatic has not been notified yet of the Comelec decision and it has yet to receive an official copy of the ruling. (LMY)


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