SC: Comelec gravely abused discretion in disqualifying Smartmatic

SC: Comelec gravely abused discretion in disqualifying Smartmatic

/ 12:42 PM April 17, 2024

BAGUIO CITY — The Supreme Court (SC) ruled that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) gravely abused its discretion when it disqualified Smartmatic-TIM Corporation from participating in the bidding for the P17.9 billion Automated Election System (AES) contract for the 2025 national and local elections.

However, the SC’s unanimous ruling made no mention of the P17.9 billion contract that Comelec inked last month with a joint venture led by South Korea’s Miru Systems Co. Ltd.

The SC spokesperson, lawyer Camille Sue Mae Ting, clarified that the validity of Miru’s contract with Comelec was not the issue presented in the case before the SC.


She said the Court’s ruling is not tantamount to upholding Comelec’s contract with Miru since the magistrates did not decide upon it.

“However, this finding is not sufficient to nullify the public bidding or award of the contract,” the SC said in a statement Wednesday, citing considerations of equity, justice, practicality, and the doctrine of operative fact.

“This means that the law produced consequences that cannot always be ignored or disregarded. It nullifies the law but sustains its effects. It is only resorted to as a matter of equity and fair play,” the SC said.

In granting the petition, the SC held that Comelec “committed grave abuse of discretion” when it disqualified Smartmatic before it had submitted any bid without any reference to the eligibility requirements prescribed by its Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).

READ: Comelec won’t accept Smartmatic bid unless told by SC

The SC said the poll body implemented a “discretionary“ pre-qualification process contrary to the provisions of the Government Procurement and Reform Act.


Smartmatic received an invitation from Comelec to attend the Election and Procurement Summit for the 2025 elections.

The company then purchased the bidding documents and participated in the pre-bid conference. However, Comelec disqualified Smartmatic from taking part in all bids on its procurement processes.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia said the decision was reached to “preserve the integrity of the electoral process” in the country.

READ: Smartmatic disqualified to preserve integrity of electoral process — Comelec

While it maintained that there were no irregularities in the conduct of elections in the country, Garcia said the poll body couldn’t close its eyes to the current issues hounding Smartmatic.

The Comelec added that its decision was consistent with its constitutional mandate to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to elections under the Constitution.

The Comelec ruling prompted Smartmatic to take its case to the SC through a petition for certiorari with a plea for issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO)/writ of preliminary injunction (WPI).

The Court did not grant a TRO/WPI, saying that Smartmatic was merely a prospective bidder with “no actual, clear, and positive right” and would not suffer irreparable injury.

Ting said that with the court’s decision, Smartmatic can still participate in future election bidding processes.

“As of now, Smartmatic can indeed participate in the next elections but subject to, let’s say if anyone files a disqualification case against them again,” the SC spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Smartmatic welcomed the Court’s ruling in a statement and considered it “a significant victory for fairness and the rule of law.”

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s ruling in our favor, which restores justice and sends a clear message to those at the helm of Comelec that due process matters,” Smartmatic lawyer Christian Robert Lim said.

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“The verdict dealt a blow against the questionable actions of certain Comelec commissioners, which include [a] sudden and random declaration of the vote counting machines (VCMs) as unserviceable despite several more years of functionality and ongoing warranty,” he added.

With the Court’s ruling, Smartmatic said it would explore opportunities to help in the ongoing modernization of the country’s election system.

TAGS: Comelec, SC, Smartmatic, Supreme Court

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