Comelec slams door to pleas to blacklist Smartmatic
MANILA, Philippines–An election watchdog group seeking the blacklisting of Smartmatic from any participation in the 2016 presidential balloting may have to seek recourse from higher courts.
The Commission on Elections’ bids and awards committee (BAC) has announced it would no longer entertain the petition by Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E) to reconsider its earlier appeal to bar the Venezuelan-based firm from joining the bidding for the 2016 automated election system.
“We took note of the motion for reconsideration and decided not to take any further action…. [which means], we did not entertain the appeal to blacklist Smartmatic,” Helen Flores, chair of the Comelec-BAC, told a press briefing on Tuesday.
But she said the group could still bring the matter to the Commission en banc or other courts like the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.
Flores explained that their decision not to take action on the motion for reconsideration was based on an earlier ruling that denied due course to C3E coalition’s petition.
C3E had asked the Comelec-BAC panel to blacklist Smartmatic from joining the bidding for the optical mark reader (OMR) and direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems that will be employed during the 2016 elections.
Smartmatic provided the country’s precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, which were used during the first automated elections in 2010 and in the succeeding balloting.
“We denied the first petition due course already and the appropriate action to a motion for reconsideration is also to take no further action,” she pointed out.
In its first ruling two weeks ago, the committee thumbed down C3E’s petition, citing its lack of legal personality to initiate a blacklisting complaint.
It also noted that the current BAC panel’s authority to blacklist bidders only covered the present bidding process and that the complaint was filed prematurely since Smartmatic had not yet submitted its proposal for the current bidding process.
The C3E filed a motion for reconsideration last week, maintaining that there was enough ground to bar Smartmatic from the bidding process.
Sought for comment on Wednesday, Hermenegildo Estrella Jr., one of the leaders of the newly formed coalition, said the panel’s decision was no longer a surprise.
“More or less, we expected that because it appears to us that the decision has already been made to really (push for) Smartmatic whatever happens,” said Estrella, adding that the group will proceed with its legal actions against the firm.
“We will go, if necessary, up to the Supreme Court to do that,” he said.
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