• Look into tax status of Indra, BIR urged

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    Smartmatic-Philippines on Thursday urged the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to look into alleged tax liabilities of rival Indra Sistemas, which was said to have failed to present any tax clearance certificate when it joined public bidding by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for lease of additional 23,000 Optical Mark Reader (OMR) units for the 2016 polls.

    Private lawyer Ruby Rose Yusi, lead counsel of Smartmatic-Philippines, informed BIR Commissioner Kim Santos-Henares that Indra joined the bidding “as a foreign bidder” but only its local branch possesses a tax clearance certificate.

    Yusi said it is questionable why Indra was declared eligible when the beleaguered Spanish company had failed to properly designate a local representative for the bidding.

    “Indra may not have the legal basis or legal personality to transact business with the Comelec,” said Yusi, of ACCRA law office.

    Earlier, the Comelec’s Bids and Awards Committee unanimously declared Indra Sistemas as eligible in the first stage of the bidding based on eligibility documents and initial technical proposals that it had submitted.

    OMR voting machines, of which PCOS machines are an example, scan ballots fed into them. They then count the votes cast by voters by recognizing and counting marks made on the ballots. In past automated polls, voters shaded ovals beside candidates’ names.

    The Comelec is seeking 23,000 additional OMR machines to augment the existing 82,000 PCOS machines in its inventory for the 2016 polls.

    Yusi, however, said Indra Sostemas “is estopped from claiming that it is one and the same entity with its branch in the Philippines.” Estoppel precludes an entity from asserting something that contradicts what is implied by its previous action or statement or by a previous court decision.

    “Even though foreign bidders are allowed to bid, they must designate a local representative,” the lawyer pointed out.

    “Indra instead submitted a board resolution literally outdated as far back as 2008, just proving the authority to establish a branch office in the Philippines. There is no indication that the authority pertains to the bidding for the 2016 elections,” Yusi explained.

    She said Indra Sistemas, which executed various eligibility documents, did not have a cedula, or Community Tax Certificate, as required under the Local Government Code for purposes of notarization of documents.

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