Comelec-Miru Systems deal to go on despite SC ruling: ‘It’s not retroactive’

Miru systems to demo machines at Senate hearing

COMELEC – MIRU SYSTEMS CONTRACT SIGNING / MARCH 11, 2024 Comelec Chairperson George Erwin Garcia and Miru Systems President Chung Jin Bok pose for photo during the P 18-billion contract signing between Commission on Election and Miru Systems Co. Ltd. for lease of an automated election system to be used in the 2025 national and local midterm elections. The South Korean firm will provide customizable systems and software, transparent and secure ballot printing, and technical support for the leased machines and systems. Miru Systems was the sole bidder for the lease of a Full Automation System with Transparency Audit/Count (Fastrac) to Comelec. (INQUIRER file photo / RICHARD A. REYES)

MANILA, Philippines —  The decision of the Supreme Court (SC) on the disqualification of automated poll provider Smartmatic has no impact on the Commission on Election’s (Comelec) deal with Miru Systems and the overall 2025 midterm elections, the poll body chief said on Thursday.

Comelec chairman George Erwin Garcia said they will appeal the high tribunal’s decision.

READ: SC: Comelec gravely abused discretion in disqualifying Smartmatic

“Hindi po mahihinto ang lahat ng preparasyon natin. Hindi maba-balewala ‘yung binigay nating award sa Miru Systems,” Garcia said over a Radyo 630 interview.

(All our preparations will not be halted. The award we gave to Miru Systems will not be invalidated.)

“Prospective ang naging decision. Hindi po siya retroactive. Mula ngayon, oh sige. Okay, lahat ng ginawa nyo. Okay lahat ‘yung nabigay nyo na award… pero mula ngayon, kung sakaling magpa-participate ‘yung company na Smartmatic, papayagan nyo na,” he explained.

(The decision was prospective. It’s not retroactive. From now on, okay, everything you’ve done is okay. All the awards you’ve given… But from now on, if the Smartmatic company decides to participate, you will allow it.)

“Pero ‘yung nangyari na hindi sila napayagan ay okay po. Valid po lahat ‘yun, sabi ng Korte Suprema,” he concluded.

(But their disqualification is okay. All of that is valid, according to the Supreme Court.)

The SC announced the ruling on Wednesday, which Smartmatic welcomed and called a “significant victory for fairness and the rule of law.”

READ: Smartmatic faces probe

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.

When asked in the interview why Smartmatic was disqualified to bid, Garcia mentioned that it was due to integrity issues, particularly in the 2016 elections.

The poll body said it will issue a formal statement regarding the SC decision.