The Supreme Court’s decision stopping the P268-million contract entered into by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smarmatic-Total Information Management (Smartmatic-TIM) has cleared the way for a Spanish company to push its bid to supply counting machines to be used in next year’s elections.
In a recent roundtable discussion with The Manila Times editors, Spanish Ambassador Luis Calvo said if the High Court will nullify the Smartmatic contract, Indra Sistemas SA is the most qualified company to provide the counting machines.
He stressed that Smartmatic-TIM did not manufacture the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines that it supplied and were used in past elections.
“They’re just buying their equipment,” Calvo said, referring to the Smartmatic’s PCOS machines that were first used in the Philippines in the 2010 presidential elections.
These machines were also used in the mid-term elections in 2013, but glitches delayed proclamation of a number of candidates, raising questions about the machines’ accuracy and reliability.
The PCOS machines, which the Comelec purchased from Smartmatic for P1.2 billion, are stored in a warehouse in Laguna.
Calvo said Indra, Smartmatic’s rival in the bid to supply vote counting machines, is “one of the world’s most important companies in all kinds of communication technologies.”
“Unlike Smartmatic, they produce their own automated election technologies,” the envoy said, adding that Indra’s technology improved the air traffic management in Germany by 70 percent.
According to the ambassador, Indra was the first company to bring into use the 4D-trajectory-based air traffic control system for flight management in Europe.
He said Indra also provides communication systems “to many countries in the world” and is also “providing equipment to the Filipino authorities, ministries and so on.”
Indra is a consulting and technology company based in Spain. According to its website, it has been operating in the Philippines for the past 18 years.
The Manila Times had learned that the Supreme Court is poised to void a P300-million contract awarded by the Comelec to Smartmatic for the repair of the old PCOS machines because the deal was not a product of public bidding.
The Comelec had said it lacked time to call for a public bidding and that it would be “too great a risk” to give the refurbishment and repair of the PCOS machines to a third party.
Several groups, including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), questioned the Smartmatic deal at the High Court.
The IBP pointed out that the Comelec blatantly violated Republic Act 9184 when it signed the contract for the repair, refurbishment and maintenance of the PCOS machines.