A group of IT experts will ask the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from bidding out the procurement of additional Precinct Count Optical Scan machines for the 2016 elections and to bar Smartmatic, the former PCOS supplier, from the bidding.
One expert, Glenn Chong, said he will seek a TRO (temporary restraining order) from the High Court.
Chong already has a petition before the court to nullify the 2013 elections, claiming that they were electronically manipulated through PCOS machines provided by Smartmatic.
The former congressman from Biliran, along with the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), has presented the SC evidence to back his claim that the electronic tabulating machines credited votes to more candidates than what were actually shaded in the ballots cast by voters.
He said the machines did not count the actual votes indicated in the ballot.
Chong is calling on other IT experts to support his group and “join hands in stopping the Comelec from proceeding with the bidding and allowing Smartmatic to participate.”
He has been on the lookout for election fraud since the adoption of the Automated Election System (AES) by the Comelec.
Recently, he testified at the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) hearing on vote discrepancies and “digital lines” resulting from the Smartmatic-issued PCOS machines.
Another IT expert, Hermenegildo Estrella Jr., wants Smartmatic excluded from the bidding for additional PCOS machines.
“There are sufficient grounds to disqualify and blacklist Smartmatic from participating in the forthcoming bidding for 2016 election requirements,” said Estrella, a former management systems analyst of IBM and advisor of Ayala and Citibank.
He testified in the Senate investigation on the 2004 presidential elections, where screen icon Fernando Poe Jr. ran against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
This week, the Comelec will start the bidding for more than 40,000 PCOS machines that will be used in the 2016 polls.
The poll body has set a pre-bid conference for Tuesday.
Recently, Comelec Chairperson Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the poll agency will likely enter into a contract with Smartmatic to refurbish the second-hand voting machines.
The Comelec earlier announced that the bidding is open to all interested parties, including Smartmatic.
Former Comelec Commissioner Augusto Lagman has also called on the poll body to stop the bidding.
Lagman said the bidding should be done after Brillantes and commissioners Elias Yusoph and Lucenito Tagle retire in February 2015.
“Why should they be the ones to do the bidding out, they should retire first, and [why not]let the new chairman run the new bidding?” Lagman told The Manila Times.
“Why are they in a hurry? There is still enough time to bid that out after February, why are they rushing it? There are questions about that system. Let the new commissioners decide on the bidding out,” he added.
The former Comelec official noted that during the 2010 elections, the PCOS contract was signed in July 2009, while for the 2013 elections, the bidding contract was signed by end of March 2012.
He said the Comelec can hold the bidding until early 2015 or even in the second quarter of next year.
Brillantes had said the poll body’s steering committee had formulated the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the bidding of the counting machines. He added that as soon as they have published the TOR, the bidding process will begin.