THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to junk the P300-million “midnight deal” entered into by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic-Total Information Management (Smartmatic-TIM).
In a 28-page petition for certiorari, the IBP accused the Comelec of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in signing the contract with Smartmatic.
The contract for the repair of 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the 2016 polls was signed by Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on January 30, 2015, or three days before he retired.
According to the IBP, the contract did not pass through required public bidding.
The deal was sealed via direct contracting or single-source procurement.
As such, the IBP asked the High Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Comelec’s contract with Smartmatic.
“Section 10 of Republic Act 9184 categorically provides that ‘all procurement shall be done through Competitive Bidding’. RA 9184 provides that the term ‘procurement’ refers to acquisition of ‘goods,’ which said law defines as ‘items, supplies, materials and general support services . . . including non-personal or contractual services,’” the IBP said, adding that “competitive bidding in government procurement is a matter of public policy.”
The lawyers’ group accused Comelec of violating the provisions of RA 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The IBP pointed out that the election court’s contention of “tight time schedule” to justify the deal does not hold water since this is “not a ground to dispense with the conduct of the public bidding under the law.”
“It may not be amiss to point out that one of the policies of the state is the promotion of good governance in all its instrumentalities. Corollary to this policy is the Comelec’s duty to safeguard public trust and confidence in elections. This duty is only possible when there is transparency and a system of accountability in the procurement of the maintenance, diagnostics and repair of the PCOS machines,” the group said.
Earlier, AES Watch also filed a similar petition with the SC.
The petitioners are Bishop Broderick Pabillo; former Comelec Commissioner Augusto Lagman; Dr. Pablo Manalastas, a computer science faculty member at the Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines; Leo Querubin of the Philippine Computer Society; Concepcion Bragas-Regalado, founding president of Migrante International; Dr. Jaime Caro of the UP Department of Computer Science; Marikol Akol, co-organizer of TransparentElections.org.ph; and Evita Jimenez, executive director of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance.