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Comelec to Smartmatic: Convince us of your right to bid

/ 05:31 AM December 02, 2014

MANILA, Philippines–The commission on Elections’ bids and awards committee (BAC) has ordered automated poll system vendor Smartmatic to explain why it should not be blacklisted from all agency biddings for the 2016 presidential elections.

In a Nov. 25 notice, the BAC gave Smartmatic until this week to dispute allegations by nine poll watchdog groups that it had misrepresented itself as the manufacturer and owner of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines the Comelec had earlier bought.

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The BAC summoned all bidding records and qualification requirements submitted by Smartmatic for its “perusal in relation to the issues that have been raised in connection with the 2009 (PCOS) procurement process.”

The Comelec notice, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer, was signed by BAC chair Helen Aguila-Flores, vice chair Jubil Surmieda and member Charlie Yap and addressed to Filipinas Ordoño, Smartmatic’s sales manager and authorized representative.

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The BAC cited the following nongovernment organizations as being behind the filing of a 210-page complaint against Smartmatic: Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E); National Labor Union; Anti-Trapo Movement of the Philippines; League of Elder and Aging Persons; Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions; Kaakbay Citizens Development Initiatives; Filipino Service Workers; ACCO Homes Neighborhood Association; and Alliance of Government and Private Retired Employees.

In a related development, former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said Smartmatic should first answer all the issues raised against it before the poll agency could even consider its qualification to supply additional PCOS machines.

“They have to answer those questions before they continue,” said Larrazabal, who was in charge of the Comelec’s automated poll system in 2010.

In a statement, Larrazabal also said: “If they can answer, good. If they cannot, you know Smartmatic is not the only vendor in the world. There are several who can provide us with an automated election.”

Last week, the C3E-led coalition formally asked the Comelec to blacklist Smartmatic for alleged misrepresentation and violation of its supply contract and the automated election law.

The group pointed out that the foreign company was not the manufacturer of the voting machines contrary to its claim that Taiwan-based Jarltech International Corp. was its subsidiary when it submitted its ISO certification to the Comelec in 2009.

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The ISO certification was among the requirements for a supplier of the PCOS machines.

It turned out that Smartmatic was “neither a majority owner of Jarltech; it merely subcontracted the production of the PCOS machines to Jarltech,” C3E said.

Smartmatic, the group said, was guilty of misrepresentation for claiming it owned the automated election technology used in the 2010 polls.

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TAGS: 2016 elections, bidding, Comelec, Commission on Elections, presidential elections, Smartmatic
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