SC: Comelec’s purchase of PCOS machines valid

The Supreme Court affirms the validity of the poll body's acquisition of P1.8-billion automated voting machines for the 2013 elections

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Voting 11-3, the Supreme Court on Wednesday, June 13, upheld the validity of the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) P1.8-billion purchase of automated voting machines for the 2013 mid-term elections. 

In a decision penned by Justice Diosdado Peralta, the High Court said the Comelec did not commit any irregularity when it exercised its option to purchase some 82,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines from Smartmatic Corp and its local partner Total Information Management Corp on March 30.

The decision lifted the temporary restraining order issued by the SC against the transaction in April.

Some groups earlier questioned the transaction, saying the main contract containing the option had expired.

Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM entered into a contract in 2009 for the leasing of the PCOS machines in the 2010 presidential elections. That contract, which lapsed on Dec 31, 2010, contained an option for Comelec to purchase the machines. The parties extended the option until March 31, 2012.

In affirming the validity of the option, the SC said the main contract could not yet be considered terminated as Comelec has yet to return P350 million in performance security bond to Smartmatic.

Justices Presbitero Velasco, Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Roberto Abad, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza, Lourdes Sereno, Bienvenido Reyes and acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio concurred in the ruling. Those who dissented were Justices Martin Villarama, Arturo Brion and Estela Bernabe. 

With the SC ruling, the poll body may now use the PCOS machines for the upcoming elections unless a motion for reconsideration is filed. Petitioners in the case may file a motion for reconsideration within 15 days.

Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes has appealed to the petitioners to “join” them and “go together forward.” – Rappler.com