• SC set to nullify Smartmatic deal

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    The Supreme Court (SC) is inclined to nullify the P300-million “midnight deal” entered into by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) with Smarmatic-Total Information Management (Smartmatic-TIM) for the refurbishment of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, according to an unimpeachable source.

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    The source told The Manila Times that the SC justices are of the opinion that the contract between the Comelec and Smartmatic is illegal because it did not undergo public bidding.

    The source said majority of the magistrates are likely to adopt the draft ponencia of Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe declaring the Smartmatic contract null and void.

    The tribunal may hand down its decision on Tuesday.

    Since the justices are of the view that the contract violates Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, the source said the 15-man tribunal is inclined to grant petitions of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Catholic Bishop Broderick Pabillo and former Comelec Commissioner Augusto Lagman and other groups that questioned the legality of the Smartmatic deal, which was signed by former Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. three days before he retired on February 2, 2015.

    The source added that most justices are against implementation of the contract because they believe that public bidding is a mandatory requirement in government contracts.

    The questioned contract calls for the repair, refurbishment and maintenance of 82,000 PCOS machines that the poll body plans to used in the 2016 polls.

    In its petition for certiorari, the IBP accused the Comelec of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction for allowing the contract with Smartmatic to proceed. It said the deal did not pass through the required public bidding and it was sealed via direct contracting or single-source procurement.

    The group said the Comelec’s excuse that it lacked time to hold public bidding should be junked because competitive bidding in government procurement is “a matter of public policy.”

    On March 23, the SC, through a vote of 12-2, indefinitely stopped the P300-million deal by issuing a temporary restraining order.

    Alternatives
    But even if the SC is yet to issue its decision on the case, the Comelec has laid down a number of alternative measures that may be implemented once the High Court voided the PCOS deal.

    Comelec Commissioner Luie Tito Guia did not elaborate on the poll body’s plans, saying these are yet to be made final.

    “Nakakasa na yan. Hirap i-finalize [It is ready. It’s difficult to finalize],” Guia told The Manila Times.

    He said the Comelec remains open to alternative modes of election as long as these are accurate and transparent.

    Guia added that they expect President Benigno Aquino 3rd to name a new Comelec chairman and two commissioners who will help them come up with a decision as the poll body continues with its preparations for next year’s polls.

    “January [2016] is the most crucial point. By January, we should be ready with ballots. We know already the candidates [by the time]and all the precincts,” the official said.

    If the SC will void the PCOS contract, Comelec officials are considering holding manual elections or ask Congress for a P14-billion supplementary budget to buy new counting machines.

    WITH WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL

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    9 Comments

    1. I agree. SC decision should not stop at declaring null and void Sixto “Boy” Brillantes midnight deal. Boy should be charge for graft and corrupt practices and sentence to serve a long vacation and jail time.

    2. We salute the SC and CA justices for standing up against the powerful corrupt regime of the yellow LP regime of PNoy and Roxas.

    3. I agree with MC. The SC decision should not stop at only nullifying Brillantes midnight deal with Smartmatic-TIM. Taxpayers and concerned citizens should file all the appropriate criminal charges in the proper court of law against Brillantes and company.

    4. Lord maraming salamat.
      Mabuti na lang mayroon pa kaming Supreme Court.

      Balik na lang sa Manual – total myroon ng computer ngayon.
      Just picture the result of the precinct tabulations of photograph it
      and send it to the Tribunal for final count.

    5. Rogelio C. Lim on

      Bilib na ako sa “unimpeachable source” na sinasabi ng Manila Times mula nang umupo bilang Chief Justice si Sereno. Mukhang laging tama ito. Napatunayan na ito ilang beses na. Makakabuti iyan sa bayan, para matakot ang mga nagbabalak sabotahin o i-delay ang disisyon ng SC.

    6. Then we go back to manual counting. We should be prepared to go back to the old ways of counting that takes months to determine who the winner is, that results in flooding of protest cases filed with the Comelec, rampant cheating like dagdag/bawas, and other unhealthy election practices. There is no more time to prepare for an automated election process. If there is, it will just be a failure as similar cases will be filed by those who cannot accept the Comelec decision.

    7. Voiding the deal should never be enough. Boy should be made accountable for signing the deal as it may set a precedent where one who will be retiring from public service may just be doing the same time – singing “midnight” deals. That smacks of the “pabaon” ritual in the military.

      • apolonio reyes on

        Tama MC, ako ay NANINIWALA na tatlo lang ang mga rason kung bakit pinirmahan ni Datu Puti sukang maisim yuon contract sa Smartmatic tatlong araw bago sya mag RETIRE; una naininiwala si Datu Puti na tama ang ginagawa nya at senior citizen na sya kaya pagbibigyan sya ng SC. Pangalawa ay meron ditong tawag sa mga supplier abroad na ” PERK ” MAS MALAKI SA PABAON SA AFP at PANGATLO AY PAKAPALAN NA LANG NG MUKHA, NACONPIRMISO NA, DI BA MC?