Election watchdog wants SC to reverse ruling on PCOS


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CenPeg argues the purchase of the PCOS machines by the Comelec is illegal because the contract that covers it has expired

MANILA, Philippines – An election watchdog, disappointed over the Supreme Court’s ruling favoring the purchase of old election machines, wants a reversal of the High Court’s decision.

The group Center for People Empowerment (CenPeg) said on Thursday, June 14, that it will file a “motion for reconsideration” to reverse the SC’s decision. The ruling affirms the legality of purchasing the old Samrtmatic precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and re-use them for the 2013 elections.

Voting 11-3, the Supreme Court on Wednesday, June 13, upheld the validity of the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) purchase of the automated voting machines used in the 2010 elections. The poll body exercised on March 30 its option to purchase some 82,000 PCOS machines from Smartmatic Corp and its local partner Total Information Management Corp. The decision also lifted the temporary restraining order issued in April by the SC against the transaction.

“We strongly believe we are correct (in our position),” Bobby Tuazon, CenPeg director for policy studies, said.

CenPeg is part of the Automated Election System Watch that filed a petition with the SC to stop the Comelec from buying and re-using next year the old election machines. The other petitioner is the Solidarity for Sovereignty.

The petitioners argued that the purchase is illegal because the July 2009 contract that provided for this option had expired in December 2010. But the SC, in affirming the validity of the option to purchase, said the main contract could not yet be considered terminated as the Comelec has yet to return P350-M in performance security bonds to Smartmatic.

“The SC decision paves the way for the re-use of Smartmatic’s voting system in the May 2013 mid-term elections without public bidding. The petitioners’ main issue is not the system but the vendor who provided the system found to be non-compliant with the technical and legal provisions as well as on real ownership,” Tuazon said.

He also challenged Smartmatic to disclose to the public the “real ownership of their program and all the errors and bugs, major to minor, found in the election system it provided in May 2010 and the corrections supposedly made.” The use of Smartmatic’s PCOS machines in the 2010 polls was marred by controversies, among them the misconfiguration of the compact flash cards and the removal of several security features.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes earlier said they will proceed next month with the inspection of the machines, all currently stored in a warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna. – Rappler.com

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