• ‘Cheating’plan for Aquino bet in 2016 elections firmed up

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    ADMINISTRATION lawmakers and controversial counting machine provider Smartmatic Corp. were accused on Sunday of having entered into an unholy alliance to ensure the victory of President Benigno “Pnoy” Aquino 3rd’s candidate for president in the 2016 elections.

    The election watchdog group Citizens for Clean and Credible Election (C3E) said the plan could easily be implemented by simply retaining the services of Smartmatic.

    According to C3E co-convenor Nicanor Elman, the supposed plan is betrayed by key leaders of the House of Representatives turning a blind eye on frailties of Smartmatic’s Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines used in past national and local polls.

    “What we are trying to understand is why some leaders of Congress had apparently turned defenders and apologists for Smartmatic,” Elman said, adding that “If ever elections push through, the Smartmatic cheating machine seems part of the grand equation for the administration.”

    The C3E leader said his group was particularly indignant at the manner by which Liberal Party congressmen took turns assailing a decision of the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) last week disqualifying Smartmatic and another bidder for additional counting machines for submitting unresponsive bids.

    He noted that while the decision will set back preparations for the 2016 elections, the congressmen “went overboard.”

    Elman said what the administration congressmen refused to see was the Comelec’s failure to identify more compelling and solid grounds to exclude the Venezuelan company Smartmatic from the bidding.

    The company was disqualified by the BAC for having submitted a bid with no price indication on several items.

    Fellow bidder Indra Sistemas was also disqualified for placing a bid higher than the approved budget for the contract.

    C3E co-convenor Alain Pascua said, “Glaring is the hairline ground for which Smartmatic was disqualified even in the face of its blatant violations and more compelling grounds of ineligibility.”

    Elman challenged the congressman-defenders of Smartmatic to debate on issues raised against Smartmatic.

    The Integrated Bar of the Philippines recently asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the Comelec’s award of a P268-million refurbishment contract to Smartmatic without public bidding.

    Separate petitions filed by C3E and AES Watch are also pending before the high tribunal seeking to blacklist the Venezuelan technology reseller, and reverse a Comelec decision awarding the diagnostic contract to Smartmatic.

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