Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the P268-million contract awarded by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to Smartmatic-TIM Corp. for the diagnostics, repair and refurbishment of 82,000 units of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.
Cruz endorsed the complaint filed by election watchdog Citizens for Clean and Honest Elections (C3E) against acting Comelec Chairman Christian Robert Lim, Commissioner Al Parreno and retired Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. in connection with the deal.
In a letter to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, the bishop pointed out that all he wanted is for truth and justice to prevail.
“Do please allow me to present to your kind attention the allegation of the Citizens for Clean and Honest Elections (C3E) herewith submitted through their admittedly rather long affidavit for the investigation of your Office if such were warranted,” Cruz said.
“Kindly be assured that my one and only interest in this matter is the concern for truth and justice ultimately for the common welfare of the people and the public good of the country as a whole,” he added.
The letter was dated March 17, 2015 but it was received by the Ombudsman on April 1.
Cruz was the former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). He currently heads the CBCP’s National Tribunal of Appeals.
In its request for investigation, the C3E, through convenor Melchor Magdamo, claimed that the negotiated contract awarded by the Comelec to Smartmatic was grossly disadvantageous to the government.
Magdamo explained that the Comelec need not pay anything because the almost P2 billion it paid to Smartmatic-TIM for the supply of 82,000 units of PCOS machines includes a warranty promise that Smartmatic shall repair defects in the counting machines.
“Many PCOS units were found to be full of defects during the 13 May 2013 elections. Smartmatic must repair them because the warranty period is not yet over,” he also pointed out.
“Why must Comelec pay Smartmatic instead of the other way around? Smartmatic must pay by rendering services to the Comelec because the express warranty imposes upon Smartmatic the obligation to repair hidden defects in the PCOS machines sold to Comelec. Comelec and Smartmatic invented an inverted warranty,” Magdamo said.
“We therefore request assistance to investigate this turn-turtle redefinition of ‘warranty,’ who must pay what to whom,” he added.
The P268-million negotiated contract for the repair of the 82,000 PCOS machines was signed by Brillantes on January 31, 2015, two days before he retired.
Brillantes has maintained that the contract was not a midnight deal.