FORMER Immigration Commissioner and Assemblyman Homobono Adaza on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from bidding a contract for the acquisition of the Automated Election System (AES) to be used in the national elections in 2016.
He also asked the High Court to exclude Smartmatic-TIM from participating in automating the polls two years from now.
In a 19-page petition for certiorari, Adaza and co-petitioner Jonathan Sinel said the bidding should not proceed until several important issues pertaining to the 2010 elections are resolved.
The petitioners also questioned the Comelec plan to use old Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in the 2016 voting.
“Considering that many of these PCOS machines remain unaccounted for and considering further that the remaining PCOS machines are now stored in a warehouse without any configuration facilities, there is no way to determine how many are still usable or can still be repaired.
Without making the inventory and desired tests, it is absolutely a grave abuse of power for respondent Comelec to disburse billions of pesos and conduct public bidding for acquisition of voting machines which may not be necessary and will involve wastage of billions of pesos,” they said.
Smartmatic was the supplier of the PCOS machines used in the elections in May 2010 and in 2013.
The petitioners said the poll body committed grave abuse of discretion for its failure to resolve pending legal questions on its deal with Smartmatic.
Adaza and Sinel said before pushing with the public bidding, the Comelec should first conduct an inventory and technical and forensic testing of the more than 80,000 PCOS machines procured for the 2010 polls.
They asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or writ of preliminary injunction that will halt the Comelec from enforcing its October 21, 2014 resolution, which approved a P2.5-billion budget for procurement of optimal mark reader (OMR) and direct recording electronic (DRE) machines.
Adaza and Sinel said the public bidding set for December 4 should be stopped.
“The aforesaid resolution and the scheduled public bidding have not taken into consideration the existence of unresolved issues which need final resolution before any such public bidding involving the aforementioned PCOS machines and new electoral system machines,” they noted.
The petitioners said Smartmatic-TIM was awarded the contract in 2010 even if it failed to comply with the requirement provided for in Section 12 of Republic Act 9369, also known as the Election Automation Law.
The law mandates that the system procured for the 2010 and succeeding elections “must have demonstrated capability and has been successfully used in a prior electoral exercise here or abroad.”
Because of this, Adaza and Sinel said, Smartmatic “should be summarily excluded from the bidding.”
On Monday, the Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E) asked the Comelec to blacklist Smartmatic from participating in all election-related activities in the country.
The group asked the Comelec’s Bids and Awards Committee to ban Smartmatic and its local partner, Total Information Management Corp. (TIMC), from joining the bidding for the procurement of 23,000 automated election systems (AESs) to be used in the 2016 presidential elections.
C3E spokesperson Dave Diwa said Smartmatic should be barred from participating in the bidding because it violated the elections law in the past and for its failure to deliver the required services in a specified period.
“Smartmatic is also guilty of misinformation when it declared that Taiwan-based Jarltech International Corp. was its subsidiary in its qualification statements,” Diwa added.
“For the past two elections, we’ve been made fools by Smartmatic. We ask the Comelec to reconsider its stance on the blacklisting of Smartmatic,” he said.