SC affirms Comelec purchase of PCOS machinesBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court affirmed with finality the validity of the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) P1.8 billion purchase of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) for next year’s automated mid-term elections.
With a vote of 8 justices out of 11 present, the high court affirmed its June 13 ruling and dismissed the appeal filed by the Automated Election System Watch (AESW).
High Court sources said Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta wrote the decision. He was concurred in by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Lucas Bersamin, Roberto Abad, Jose Mendoza and Bienvenido Reyes.
Associate Justices Arturo Brion and Estela Perlas-Bernabe joined Martin Villarama in the dissent.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo and Jose Perez were absent during Tuesday’s deliberation. Carpio and Perez were on wellness leave, del Castillo was on personal leave.
High court sources said the justices stood pat that the contract for the purchase of some 82,000 machines used in the 2010 elections is legal since it was forged when the earlier contract between Comelec and Smartmatic for the 2010 polls was still valid.
The high court dismissed the claim of the petitioners that the period to purchase has lapsed after Dec. 31, 2010. Petitioners insisted that with the lapse of the contract in 2010, the new deed of sale between Smartmatic and Comelec was illegal.
The high court also reiterated that Comelec has yet to return in full the P360-million performance security bond it had collected from Smartmatic in case of failure to deliver equipment based on contract schedules or non-performance.
Also, the high court said petitioners failed to “give a plausible alternative to ensure the conduct of a successful 2013 automated elections, in the event that the Court nullifies the Deed of Sale.”