Ex-national treasurer joins protest vs Smartmatic
MANILA, Philippines–Former national treasurer Leonor Briones has joined several nongovernment groups who were strongly opposing the participation of automated polls system provider Smartmatic in the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) bidding for the supply of P2-billion worth of additional precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and the P1.2-billion refurbishing of old PCOS units for the 2016 polls.
Briones told reporters she would go to court if the Comelec awards the contract to the controversial company.
“We already had two elections using the Smartmatic system that is riddled with flaws… Why are we going to get its services again? It has a poor track record and it is facing so many complaints and legal issues,” she said in Filipino.
Briones said she had the unfortunate first-hand experience of handling the inefficient and defective PCOS machines supplied by Smartmatic, having been in the field in the 2010 and 2013 elections.
She said she wonders why Comelec still patronizes the firm despite its alleged poor performance.
According to Briones, information technology (IT) experts were convinced that the PCOS units were prone to tampering. But the voting machines were also considered to have “zero value” three years after they had been initially used and they could no longer be repaired, nor could parts be bought for replacement, she said.
Since the PCOS machines were already used in the 2010 presidential polls, technically, they were over three years old and can no longer be repaired, she said.
This, she said, will be among the issues she would raise should the Comelec decide to award the deal to Smartmatic.
Meanwhile, retired Lingayan-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz warned of possible “massive confusion and disorder” before and during the 2016 elections if Smartmatic is allowed to handle the automated polls again.
“If Smartmatic wins the bidding, it would again create a lot of suspicion. That would be the outcome of that. There would be massive confusion even before election day,” Cruz said in Filipino.
Citing questions raised by IT specialists and observers of the 2010 and 2013 vote counts, Cruz said, “they cannot swallow the counting [procedures] of Smartmatic. Up to now, the issues remain unsolved.”
“As a registered voter and therefore, a participant to the 2016 elections, I will do my moral and civic obligation by going to court to disqualify Smartmatic,” he said.
The Comelec’s Bids and Awards Committee earlier declared that both Smartmatic and another bidder, Indra Sistemas SA, were eligible to take part in the poll body’s PCOS procurement process.
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