Probe P300-million PCOS deal – Miriam

 Sen. Santiago

Sen. Santiago

SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago wants the Senate to look into the allegedly illegal  P300-million diagnostics deal between the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic-Total Information Management involving Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines that were used in the 2010 and 2013 automated polls.

Santiago, in filing Senate Resolution 1102, has sought an inquiry  by the proper Senate committee into the contract for the refurbishment of the 80,000 PCOS machines that were manufactured by Smartmatic.

In justifying her request to investigate the diagnostics deal, the senator cited Article 5, Section 2, of the Constitution  that mandates Congress to provide a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot as well as a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos abroad.

Santiago called for the probe in reaction to the Comelec deciding  to allow Smartmatic to carry out Phase I of the refurbishment deal without conducting a public bidding first.

Phase 1 of the P1.2-billion PCOS refurbishment process includes examination, diagnostics and minor repair of the 80,000 PCOS machines.

Phase II involves procurement of additional PCOS machines for P900 million that is yet to be awarded by the Comelec.

Santiago,  in her resolution, cited newspaper reports quoting Comelec insiders about a plan of officials of the poll body to skip public bidding and instead enter into a negotiated contract with Smartmatic.

The law allows direct contracting as long as the cost of a project does not exceed P500 million.

The refurbishment contract for the PCOS machines cost P1.2 billion, with the Comelec already awarding P300 million of it to Smartmatic.

“The government should protect the right to suffrage by guaranteeing the integrity of the electoral process, while Congress, in its exercise of the power of the purse, should ensure that public funds are judiciously used,” Santiago stated in her resolution.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People Participation, earlier questioned a decision of the Comelec to enter into direct contracting with Smartmatic despite the poll body still having  a lot of time to call for a public bidding for the diagnostics deal.

Pimentel said open public bidding would afford the Comelec an opportunity to pick the best offer and secure the lowest bid for services and products being bought by the government.

He added that Comelec Chariman Sixto Brillantes Jr. and Commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph should not anymore decide on the matter and allow their successors instead to handle preparations for the next elections since the three officials are set to retire next month.

Meanwhile, Cesar Flores, president of Smartmatic for Asia Pacific, hailed the Comelec decision for taking advantage of  extended warranty on the 80,000 Smartmatic-made PCOS.

Smartmatic remains as the sole source of the machines’ original spare parts.

“While we do not begrudge anyone the right to express their opposition to the contract, we trust the courts will once again uphold the wisdom of the Comelec to award the mission-critical task of maintaining the PCOS machines to [their]rightful manufacturer and the only legitimate source of original spare parts,” Flores said.

He noted that Smartmatic’s contracts with the Comelec have been upheld as legal and binding by the Supreme Court twice.


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  1. Come Holy Week, it will remind us of the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Two thieves on the left and on the right of Jesus will also be crucified. On the right will be Mercado saying/confessing, “Lord forgive me for what I sinned. I will return all the things I stole”. On the left will be Binay saying, “I will not return all the billions of money I stole from the taxpayers. I will hide them so that only my wife and children will buy more properties using my dummies. In fact gusto ko rin nakawin ang singsing ng Santo Papa”.

  2. Let’s see the entire context wherein smartmatic operates and decide this more objectively and impartially. This is too important to get over emotional about. Smartmatic happens to be the world’s most used system second to none. The European Union Mission has endorsed the Smartmatic system calling it the “most advanced system in the world” and so has former US President Jimmy Carter who in fact said it was “the best voting system in the world.” I am not for or against smartmatic because I hear these conflicting statements made by credible people and entities. But we cannot just ignore what Carter and the European mission among others, have said.

  3. the legitimacy of the present occupants are all in doubts because of these fake machine which idolize by the corrupt admin to make sure that hthe next election is again another big dayaan . why our AFP and PNP are sleeping on the noodles or deaf in the truth or it is true that they are all paid kaya sila tahimik kawawang ph.

  4. It is a sign of the Philippines’ being a failed state that while Smartmatic and its Automated Election System using the PCOS machines have been questioned by serious and honest IT scientists and election experts, the Comelec under Sixto Brillantes has been allowed to give legitimacy to Smartmatic and concerned government officials have turned a blind eye and ear, like the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil monkeys, to the problem. Thank God we still have a senator like Madam Miriam Defensor-Santaago. My worry is if the Senate will bother with her Resolution and if Senator Pimentel has the same integrity as his father.
    BIshops, Protestant churchmen and Muslim holy men have joined the citizens in denouncing the PCOS machines. More sophisticated countries than us–like Germany, Switzerland, the USA, Australia, etc–have reverted back to MANUAL balloting which is transparent and dropped AUTOMATED systems like Smartmatic’s because they results are not verifiable and the machines are subject to fraud and manipulation and therefore the results are not credible.
    Sen. Miriam and Pimentel have to contend with Senate President and LP boss Franklin Drilon and the likes of the Cayetano siblings and Trillanes and others who are the TUTAs of Malacanang and blinded to the common good by their own ambitions.
    May God help us the Filipino people and our imperfect but viable democracy to survive the evil reign of the Venezuelan Smarmatic company and Brillantes’ Comelec over our electoral democracy that has been trampled upon in 2010 and 2013 and will be once more in 2016 if the Smartmatic AES-PCOS machines are not banned.

  5. PLEASE, please, please. Smartmatic is Not, repeat, NOT a manufacturer of of election hardware. It is a Venezuelan company which makes election related programs and software. Anybody can google Smartmatic and find out who they really are.