Justices of the Supreme Court (SC) convening en banc in Baguio City on Tuesday decided to defer voting on the validity of the P300-million maintenance contract entered into by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) with Smarmatic-Total Information Management (Smartmatic-TIM).
According to sources of The Manila Times, the deferment was sought by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justice Presbiterio Velasco Jr. The two voted against issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping enforcement of the contract, which was allegedly closed without public bidding.
The Smartmatic case will be included in the High Court’s agenda on April 21 or the last en banc session in the summer capital.
A source of The Manila Times said Sereno cut short discussion of the Smartmatic case on Monday to give way to oral arguments of a petition of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales against the Court of Appeals involving the TRO that the latter issued in favor of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr.
The source added that some of the justices were “intrigued” why Sereno was allegedly pushing for the holding of oral arguments on the Smartmatic case.
Velasco, meanwhile, reportedly asked for one week to study the case as he was considering writing a separate opinion.