SC scraps P269-M Comelec-Smartmatic warranty deal
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—The Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped the implementation of the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) P268.8-million extended warranty contract given to Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corporation (Smartmatic-TIM).
The contract awarding the project to Smartmatic for the diagnostics, repair and refurbishment of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines was made under Comelec resolution 9922.
Voting unanimously, the high court said the Comelec “failed to justify its resort to direct contracting with Smartmatic-TIM.”
Petitioners AES and the IBP said there was a need for the high tribunal to nullify Comelec Resolution 9922 for violation of the Constitution and of Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Law.
“It bears emphasizing that the aforesaid resolution clearly contravened Republic Act 9184 … as it brushed aside the requirement of a competitive bidding, not to mention that it dangerously set the stage for Comelec to resort to direct contracting with Smartmatic-TIM, to the detriment of public interest,” AES said.
IBP said Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in approving Resolution No. 9922.
“Comelec’s approval [of the contract] constitutes grave abuse of discretion as it grossly violates the requirement of public and competitive bidding under RA 9184 which was enacted to ensure transparency in procurement processes conducted by the government,” IBP’s petition said.
The Comelec has said it skipped public bidding due to time constraint. But IBP and AES said the reason given by Comelec was not among the conditions allowed for engaging in a direct contract.
Under the Procurement Act, direct contract is allowed only when the goods to be bought can exclusively be obtained from the proprietary source; when the procurement of critical components from a specific manufacturer, supplier or distributor is a condition precedent to hold a contractor to guarantee its project performance, in accordance with the provisions of his contract; or, goods can only be bought to a dealer or manufacturer that does not have sub dealers selling at a lower price.
The high court agreed with the petitioners saying Comelec failed to show that it has complied with any conditions stated under the procurement act.
“Its claims of impracticality were not supported by independently verifiable data and its perceived “warranty extension” is, in reality, a circumvention of the procurement law,” high court Information Chief Theodore Te said at a press conference.
“It is clear that the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion and, thus, its Resolution No. 9922 and the Extended Warranty Program (Part 1) should be stricken down and necessarily, all amounts paid to Smartmatic-TIM pursuant to said contract, if any, being public funds should be returned to the government,” Te said. CB/TVJ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.