EVERYBODY in his right mind and with the proper moral sense rejoiced over the Supreme Court’s decision to void the Comelec en banc’s decision to reverse its own expert committee’s ruling to reject the midnight deal between the poll body and Smartmatic. The contract was signed by now retired former Chairman Sixto Brillantes just as he was leaving the Comelec.
That decision of our High Court, we thought, would forever ban Smartmatic and its Automated Election System using the accursed PCOS machines. Smartmatic destroyed Philippine electoral democracy in the 2010 and 2013 elections and threatened to continue its evil work in 2016.
We were wrong to rejoice. Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez has been saying that the Comelec is not yet closing its doors on Smartmatic. The Venezuelan marketing company could still be the contractor, if Smartmatic decides to enter into a negotiated bid for the contract to refurbish and repair the 82,000 PCOS machines that Smartmatic sold to us Filipinos and the Comelec used in 2010 and 2013.
Mr. Jimenez has also said that the Commissioners did not think the Supreme Court decision nullifying the Comelec’s illegal contract with Smartmatic disqualifies Smartmatic from continuing to be the poll body’s supplier. He said the SC only found the way the contract was arrived at — without bidding — condemnable and illegal but not Smartmatic and its AES system.
We have many times shown in this space why Smartmatic should have, from the very beginning, been disqualified to bid and offer its AES system to us Filipinos. This is mainly because it did not own the technology, software and source code to operate the system it was selling to us. The owner is the Dominion Corporation, which sued Smartmatic in Delaware, USA, for stealing its property.
Then, in carrying out its AES using PCOS machines in 2010 and in 2013, Smartmatic disabled all the capabilities of the system and the PCOS machines to make the election process transparent, the counting done by the machines verifiable and accurate, and about a dozen other functions that our Automated Election Law (Republic Act 9369) clearly stipulates as requirements. Smartmatic’s failure to comply with RA 9369 in both the 2010 and 2013 elections makes the whole election process illegal–and the results proclaimed by Comelec invalid. This is the subject of several lawsuits against Smartmatic and the Comelec. And this is why some citizens, including us in The Times, call President Aquino merely the “de facto” not the “de jure” president of our country.
With all the shortcomings and illegalities of the Smartmatic AES using the PCOS machines (which can be “ordered” by Smartmatic technicians to produce precinct results contrary to the will of the voters) it is really a mystery why Comelec insists on clinging to Smartmatic.
We praise Commission on Appointments member and Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano who spoke out his concerns over this matter.
“It’s very clear that there’s something fishy in Comelec. There is a sinister, if not dangerous ploy, that could result in another round of cases to be brought to the High Court,” he said. And addressing Mr. Jimenez, Rep. Albano also said, “ Don’t even think of any kind of negotiated contract with a private firm. There is enough time left for the poll body to conduct open transparent biddings for the automation requirements of the 2016 elections.”
“These recent statements emanating from the Comelec are serious signals that again, some audacious and unscrupulous parties are out to resurrect the sordid Smartmatic-TIM contracts through negotiation,” the Isabela Congressman said.
Our House reporter wrote that Albano has urged the Comelec to stop defending Smartmatic as if its life depended on it, but instead act to ensure that the manner of contracting for the refurbishment complies with our laws.
“The Comelec cannot invoke ‘limited time’ to resort to questionable and legally infirm shortcuts since it is dutybound to present to Congress its contingency plans to ensure the conduct of clean, honest and efficient elections next year,” Mr. Albano said.
We wholeheartedly agree.
And we reiterate our call that Smartmatic and guilty Comelec officials be prosecuted for all the illegal acts they have committed since 2010 and earlier.