Comelec gives Smartmatic and TIM chance to settle their differences until Friday

June 30, 2009 9:11 am 

MANILA, June 30 — The ball is now on the hands of the winning bidders on whether or not to push through with the automation project for the 2010 national and local polls.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has given Smartmatic Corporation and Total Information Management (TIM) until Friday (July 3) to settle their differences in the joint venture partnership.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said it was decided upon by the poll body in an en banc meeting held Tuesday afternoon with the officials of both companies to issue separate or joint statements before the end of the week.

“We gave them the chance to air each other’s sentiments,” he added.

He said it was only during the one-hour meeting held in his office that officials of both companies had talked as there were no communications between them in the past weeks.

The Comelec official disclosed that the major reason of the conflict is on who will have the control on the money or the disbursement of fund.

“It boils down to on who will control the money,” Melo said.

Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer said, “Basically, it was on the operational disbursement… na kung may gagastusin, sino ang magde-determine.”

Meanwhile, the Comelec chief, when asked about the possibility of the automation project being implemented in next year’s polls, said: “There is a 50/50 chance,” noting that it would depend on what would be the companies' response by the end of the week. p>For his part, Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said that even though there is nothing concrete yet as far as the automation contract is concerned, they are happy that the meeting has opened the door for both companies to communicate again.

“At least, nag-start na ulit sila to communicate with each other, yun ang maganda,” he said.

Melo said they also decided not to issue any statements to the media until Friday (July 3) as far as the issue on the automation project is concerned.

Jose Mari Antunez, TIM president and chief executive officer, said they are ready to sit down with Smartmatic.

Likewise, he admitted that the concerns on “control” was the main disagreement in the joint venture partnership.

It can be recalled that TIM verbally informed Melo Monday afternoon that they are backing out of the consortium with Smartmatic, citing “irreconcilable differences.”

The TIM officials who attended the meeting were Antunez, lawyer Boy de Borja and senior vice president Salvador Aque, while for Smartmatic were Juan Villa and spokesperson Cesar Flores. (PNA)

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