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SC junks petition seeking to void award of contract to Smartmatic

/ 04:39 PM June 14, 2016
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday junked a petition that sought to nullify Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution 9980 that awarded to Smartmatic-TIM a P6.2-billion contract for the lease of optical mark readers (OMRs) used in the May 9 general elections.

“Considering that the elections have already been concluded and the OMR machines have been utilized nationwide, any resolution of the Court with regard to the implementation of Comelec Resolution No. 9980 will serve no substantive relief to the parties, nor will it have any practical or legal value to the Bench and the Bar,” SC spokesperson Theodore Te said in a press conference.

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The petition was filed last year by Francisco S. Aguilar Jr. and Guillermo A. Santos accusing Comelec of acting with grave abuse of discretion when it issued the resolution as they called it “an act of spending splurge” that must be stopped.

READ: SC asked to junk Comelec’s P6-B ‘spending splurge’ deal with Smartmatic

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The Comelec resolution issued last year leased 70,977 machines worth P6,286,382,682.72 from Smartmatic. The same resolution issued the Notice of Award to Smartmatic, which was declared as the bidder with the lowest calculated and responsive bid, “provided that this award pertains solely to the lease of the units of Optical Mark Reader (OMR).”

Smartmatic also got the contract for the lease of 23,000 OMR which was awarded last July 31 for P1.7-billion which the government would procure to supplement the 81,896 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the 2019 mid-term elections.

Petitioners said “not only is taxpayers’ money being illegally, irregularly or unnecessarily expended/dissipated in connection with the lease of 93,977 OMR, existing machineries (81,896 PCOS machines) are allowed to rot in a warehouse rented by the Comelec for P800,000 a month through non-use and lack of maintenance, refurbishment and/or upgrade.”

“The Comelec, in leaving the 81,896 PCOS machines in the warehouse unmaintained and not refurbished to the gross disadvantage of the government, constitutes wastage of public resources or property, and thus a transgression of its fiscal responsibility,” the petition read.

Petitioners added that such procurement is against Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act particularly Art. II, Section 7 which provides that “all procurement shall be within the approved budget of the Procuring Entity and should be meticulously and judiciously planned by the Procuring Entity concerned.”

Last week, the SC  junked the petition of watchdog group Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) questioning the earlier parallel biddings of Comelec for the refurbishment of the existing PCOS machines and the lease of new OMR units. RAM/rga

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TAGS: Comelec, Commission on Elections, Elections 2016, OMRs, optical mark readers, SC, Smartmatic-TIM, Supreme Court
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