Comelec tells Smartmatic to answer blacklist raps

Michael Bueza

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Comelec tells Smartmatic to answer blacklist raps


Smartmatic is the subject of a 210-page complaint by 9 groups for bidding as a supplier for the poll body when it doesn't own the technology it is selling

MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of the opening of bids for more voting machines for the 2016 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) asked Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corporation to respond to petitions from various groups to blacklist the technology provider.

Nine groups want Smartmatic to be excluded from the bidding as a supplier for the poll body since it doesn’t own the technology it is selling.

Smartmatic was given 5 working days from receipt of the notice sent by the Comelec bids and awards committee (BAC) to comment on the raps by 9 groups and poll watchdogs in a combined 210-page complaint. (#PHvote wRap: Comelec plans for 2016 voting machines)

The notice, dated November 25, was signed by members of the Comelec-BAC, led by chairperson Helen Flores. It was addressed to Filipinas Ordoño, authorized representative of Smartmatic-TIM.

As of this posting, Smartmatic-TIM has yet to submit its reply, said the Comelec-BAC.

Among the complainants is the Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E), which filed a petition on November 24 to blacklist Smartmatic from future election-related projects for allegedly committing misrepresentation and violations of election laws in past polls.

The other 8 groups that opposed Smartmatic’s participation in the 2016 polls are:

  • National Labor Union
  • Anti-Trapo Movement of the Philippines
  • League of Elder & Aging Person
  • Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions
  • Kaakbay Citizen’s Development Initiative
  • Filipino Service Workers
  • ACCO Homes Neighborhood Association
  • Alliance of Government & Private Retired Employees

In a separate memorandum, the current Comelec-BAC wrote to lawyer Margaret Ching, former head of the 2009 Special BAC, to request the turnover of all documents related to the procurement of PCOS machines.

In 2009, Smartmatic-TIM was awarded the contract to lease precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines for the 2010 polls. The Comelec then purchased the PCOS machines in 2012 for P1.8 billion. The Supreme Court upheld the validity of the procurement the same year.

The C3E claimed that Smartmatic was “merely a reseller” of the PCOS machines, and not its manufacturer. It also claimed that Smartmatic subcontracted the production of the machines to Taiwan-based Jarltech International Corporation, which Smartmatic declared as one of its subsidiaries.

In addition, the C3E also said that it was a different company, Canada-based Dominion Voting Systems, and not Smartmatic that owned the automation software used by the PCOS machines.

“For the past two elections, we’ve been made fools by Smartmatic. We ask the Comelec to reconsider its stance on the blacklisting of Smartmatic,” C3E spokesperson Dave Diwa said.

On Thursday, December 4, the Comelec-BAC will open the bids of interested parties, including Smartmatic, for the lease of new voting machines, to augment the existing 80,000 PCOS machines that would be refurbished for the 2016 elections.

The poll body seeks 23,000 optical mark reader (OMR) voting machines and 410 direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines that use touchscreen technology. –

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Michael Bueza

Michael is a data curator under Rappler's Tech Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.