Comelec, Smartmatic sued over poll-fund realignment

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A petition has been filed before the Supreme Court (SC) against the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic-TIM Corporation in connection with the poll body’s realignment of funds and subsequent award of contract to the Venezuelan firm.

Petitioners were a group of bishops and Francisco Tatad, a former senator and now columnist of The Manila Times.

The bishops, led by Rolando Tria-Tirona, Oscar Cruz, Fernando Capalla and Ramon Arguelles, asked the SC to stop and declare illegal Comelec Resolution 15-044 titled “In the Matter of the Realignment for the Capital Outlay Requirement of the FY2016 National and Local Elections (NLE); and Cancellation of the Voter Registration System (VVS) Project.”

The petition was filed by Center for People Empowerment in Governance (Cenpeg) and asked the tribunal to strike down as unconstitutional three Comelec resolutions, namely No. 15-0355 (parallel bidding), No. 15-0359 (creation of two Special Bids and Awards Committees) and No. 15-044 (realignment for the capital outlay requirement of the 2016 polls).


Another petition filed earlier by former Comelec Commissioner Augusto Lagman, former Philippine Computer Society president Leo Querubin and election convenor Maria Corazon Akol sought to stop the Comelec from awarding a lease contract with option to purchase 23,000 Optical Mark Readers (OMRs) to be used in the May 2016 national and local elections.

In the 52-page petition for certiorari, the Lagman group also asked the SC to halt implementation of the June 29, 2015 decision of the Comelec that granted the project and declared that the joint venture of Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) and Jarltech International Corporation has the lowest calculated responsive bid in connection with the public bidding for the 23,000 OMRs.

It stated that the poll body had committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

In seeking to reverse the Comelec award to Smartmatic, the petitioners further asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction against Comelec.

Lagman’s group said Smartmatic “is guilty of misrepresentation for claiming that it complies with the equity requirements under Philippine law when it truth it is 100- percent foreign-owned.”

It accused the company of violating Batas Pambansa (BP) 68 or the Corporation Code in view of the foreign ownership of Smartmatic and Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The SC was asked, too, to “reverse and set aside the decision of the Comelec en banc promulgated on June 29, 2015 for being repugnant to the letter and spirit of BP 68 and RA 9184 and/or for grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”

The petition was filed before the SC by Manuelito Luna, the Lagman group’s lawyer.

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