Amid calls from IT experts to defer the bidding for the acquisition of additional counting machines by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Smartmatic Asia on Tuesday maintained that the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines the company provided for the 2010 and 2013 elections were not defective.
Cesar Flores Zavarce, president of Smartmatic Asia, said the results of the automated elections were audited and the system was “proven to be accurate.”
He added that moves to have his company banned from the Comelec bidding have no basis, noting that in 2009 when Smartmatic won the contract to provide 82,000 PCOS machines for P1.2 billion, “there were observers from the Commission on Audit (COA), the Ombudsman office, different election watchdogs, and they all agreed that the bid was clean and orderly.”
“In the two last national automated elections, the results have been audited and recounted several times, and in every time the system has been proven to be accurate. Also, the system has provided enough audit features that allow anybody to check on the accuracy of the vote,” Zavarce said.
He said the company is unfazed by threats of IT groups to file a petition at the Supreme Court.
“We invite them to keep filing those cases. The Supreme Court has in two occasions ruled with finality that the contracts and the bids that Smartmatic has won were fair, legal and advantageous to the country,” he said in a statement.
Zavarce deplored what he called the “concerted effort” of their rivals and critics to exclude his company from the public bidding.
“It is interesting to see that, as soon as a bid is released, all these groups start to call for our disqualification. I don’t think it is a coincidence, but rather the coming together of the groups that have always opposed the automation of elections in the Philippines,” he said.
Some IT experts had prodded the poll body to postpone the bidding for the purchase of additional PCOS machines but Comelec officials were not inclined to defer the procedure.
The Comelec on Tuesday released the Invitations to Bid for additional Optical Mark Reader and Direct Recording Electronic machines to be used in the 2016 polls.
The IT experts also said they plan to ask the High Court to blacklist Smartmatic from the bidding.
But Comelec Commissioner Lucenito Tagle said the poll body is considering negotiating another contract with Smartmatic for the repair and refurbishment of the old PCOS machines.
Smartmatic was the provider of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines used during the 2010 and 2013 presidential elections.