SC stops Comelec from purchasing P1.8-B PCOS machines

April 24, 2012 9:51 pm 

By Perfecto T. Raymundo Jr.

BAGUIO CITY, April 24 — The Supreme Court (SC) stopped on Tuesday the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from purchasing precinct optical scan (PCOS) machines worth P1.8 billion for use in the 2013 midterm elections.

In a press conference here, SC Spokesman and Court Administrator Atty. Jose Midas Marquez said that the High Court is issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the implementation of the contract between the Comelec and Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM).

Likewise, Marquez also said that a special en banc session will be conducted on May 2, 2012 in Manila, to be followed by an oral argument.

The case arose when Davao City Archbishop Fernando Capalla, former Marawi City Mayor Omar Ali, and former Quezon City Rep. Mary Anne Susano, Solidarity for Sovereignty (S4S), represented by Ma. Linda Montayre, Ramon Pedrosa, Benjamin Paulino Sr., Evelyn Coronel, and Nelson Montayre and the Automated Election System (AES) Watch filed their separate petitions before the SC and sought the issuance of a TRO and the nullification of the contract.

The petitioners argued that the Comelec's purchase of the PCOS machines is "illegal and unlawful" following the lapse on December 31, 2010 of the option to order in its contract with Smartmatic-TIM signed on June 9, 2009 for the automation of the May 10, 2010 national elections.

They said that any purchase of technology and election systems for use in the 2013 midterm elections should have to undergo public bidding.

The petitioners also said that there were glitches, delays, defects and technical problems encountered in the 2010 presidential elections that violated Republic Act No. 9369, otherwise known as the "Automated Election System Act."

Smartmatic-TIM was awarded the contract for the automation of the 2010 elections on June 9, 2009.

The contract contained an option to purchase up to December 31, 2010, which Smartmatic-TIM extended up to March 31, 2012.

The Comelec purchased the machines a day before the option to purchase expired. (PNA) DCT/scs/PTR

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