COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) Chairperson Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Tuesday clarified that only the P300-million diagnostics contract was awarded to Smartmatic-TIM, not the entire refurbishing project for 80,000 old Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines that costs P1.2 billion.
Reeling from a barrage of criticisms, including allegations that the P1.2-billion project was given to Smartmatic as “midnight deal” in preparation for Brillantes’ retirement next month, the Comelec chief said potential bidders for the refurbishment of the machines still have the chance to bid for the entire contract.
He noted that the contract awarded to Smartmatic-TIM was only the P300-million diagnostics of the PCOS machines.
“Akala nila P1.2 billion [was awarded to Smartmatic]. [The] P300-million is for the first part lang. Hindi pa yung actual refurbishing. Ang P900 million wala pa dun yun [Critics think that the P1.2-billion contract has been awarded to Smartmatic]. The P300 million is only for the first part. It is not for the actual refurbishing. The P900 million is still not there],” Brillantes explained.
“Pwede naman ibigay sa iba yung main refurbishing project. Ang importante tingnan muna kung ilan ang may sira. Binigay na namin sa Smartmatic yun, tutal sila naman ang manufacturer. Sila naman ang gumawa niyan e. Sasabihin nila ito ang bilang ng may sira, ito ang sira. After the diagnostics, pwede na natin i-discuss kung sa Smartmatic na din or public bidding naman [The main refurbishing project can be given to others. What is important is to look into the PCOS machines that are defective. We gave the contract to Smartmatic because they were the manufacturers of the machines. They will tell us the number of defective units. After the diagnostics, we can discuss if the contract goes to Smartmatic or another bidder],” he said.
According to the Comelec chairman, the decision whether to tap other companies for the refurbishment of the machines lies in the hands of the remaining commissioners since he, together with Commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph, will retire on February 2.
Brillantes said no contract has been signed with Smartmatic because some details are still being negotiated.