Malacañang on Tuesday debunked the specter of a “No-el” or “No elections” scenario raised by election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, who warned that the 2016 polls may not push through if the Supreme Court (SC) will scrap the negotiated contract with Smartmatic for the maintenance of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.
“Meron tayong 2016 elections. Nasa Saligang Batas po ‘yan. We don’t have a plan to stay a day longer than June 30, 2016. So, we would like to ensure the elections would push through,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
In a press briefing, the official downplayed Macalintal’s “speculation,” noting that the SC knows what would be best for the country.
Macalintal criticized the SC for stopping the contract, saying it could take six months to determine the capability or accuracy of the PCOS machines.
“At this point this is a speculation in the part of Attorney Macalintal and certainly the Supreme Court will find a judgment based on the merits of the case,” Lacierda said.
Last week, the tribunal temporarily halted the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from getting the services of Smartmatic-TIM for the repair and refurbishing of at least 80,000 PCOS machines that will be used in the national elections next year.
The court en banc voted 12-2, with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco dissenting, for the issuance of the TRO.
Macalintal argued that the decision to stop the contract could hamper the preparations for the elections. Unless the Comelec reverts to manual elections, there could be no polls next year.
But Lacierda said the Comelec itself is “mindful of its responsibilities” and that the Palace trusts the poll body.
A petition has been filed with the Supreme Court seeking to declare as null and void both Comelec Resolution No. 9922 and the deal between the poll body and Smartmatic for alleged violation of Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
Comelec Resolution No. 9922 approved Smartmatic’s P300-million “Extended Warranty Proposal (Program 1)” through direct contracting. Under it, contractor will examine the 80,000 machines for refurbishment, conduct full diagnostic of the PCOS machines and perform repairs.
WITH JANINA LIM