Poll watchdogs file petition vs PCOS deal

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ELECTION watchdogs will be giving a going away “present” to Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. and two commissioners who will be retiring today—a petition seeking to stop the implementation of the contract awarded to Smartmatic.

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Individual convenors and members of the citizens’ election watchdog Automated Election System Watch (AES Watch) will file before the Supreme Court (SC) a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction nullifying Comelec Resolution 9922, which virtually awards–without public bidding–to Smartmatic-TIM the P1.2-billion plus contracts for the “diagnostics, repair and refurbishment” of 80,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

The petitioners include Bishop Broderick Pabillo of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP); Dr. Pablo Manalastas, computer science faculty of Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines; Leo Querubin, president of the Philippine Computer Society; former Comelec Commissioner Augusto Lagman; Concepcion Bragas-Regalado, founding president of Migrante International; Dr. Jaime DL. Caro of the UP Department of Computer Science; Marikol Akol, co-organizer of TransparentElections.org.ph; and Evita Jimenez, executive director, Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG).

Dr. Nelson Celis, AESWatch spokesperson, called the Comelec resolution “the Brillantes midnight deal that paves the way for the continuing travesty of our elections by defective Smartmatic PCOS machines and a non-compliant Comelec.”

AES Watch volunteer lead counsel Manuelito R. Luna will lead the filing in collaboration with other lawyers.

The petition cites Comelec commissioners’ grave abuse of discretion in issuing the resolution, in violation of the Constitution and the procurement law.

Brillantes had earlier clarified that what it awarded to Smartmatic was the P300 million contract to diagnose the 80,000 old PCOS machines. He explained that the poll body has yet to award the P900 million contract for the repair and maintenance of the counting machines.

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