This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.
MANILA, Philippines – Technology provider Smartmatic dismissed the claims by poll watchdogs that the company is “unfit” to provide election services for the 2016 national and local elections, and said these issues are “rehashed.”
In a media forum on Tuesday, December 2, Smartmatic responded to criticisms by groups such as the Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E) and the Automated Election Systems Watch (AES Watch).
Both groups seek to have Smartmatic blacklisted from bidding for any services or supplies for 2016 polls due to issues surrounding the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that it provided for the 2010 and 2013 automated elections.
The groups also said Smartmatic is just a reseller and not the owner of the automation technology that it has offered to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Smartmatic Philippines president Cesar Flores said the poll watchdogs’ criticisms are “baseless,” adding that they are “rehashing issues from 5 and a half years ago.”
Flores said that Smartmatic has been transparent in all of its actions, adding that it has disclosed to the Comelec all of its licensing agreements with other companies.
In 2009, Smartmatic won the contract for the lease of around 80,000 units of PCOS machines for the 2010 polls. The Comelec then purchased the machines for P1.8 billion in 2012, in time for the 2013 elections. Various groups have asked the Supreme Court to void the transactions, but their petitions were denied.
“The Supreme Court has, in two occasions, ruled with finality that the contracts and the bids that Smartmatic won were fair, legal, and advantageous to the country,” said Smartmatic in an accompanying statement.
Flores added that in the IT industry, the licensing of services to other companies is “standard practice.”
To say that Smartmatic is not the manufacturer of the PCOS machines “is the same as saying that Apple is not the manufacturer of iPhones,” said Flores, explaining that most iPhones are produced in the factories of Foxcomm in China.
Smartmatic said that the PCOS machines were manufactured in the facilities of its subsidiary Jarltech International Corporation, which has ISO 9001 certification. “This relationship is acceptable under the Government Procurement Law,” their statement said.
The C3E group, in its petition to blacklist Smartmatic, argues that Jarltech is not a subsidiary of Smartmatic and does not have Smartmatic as a majority owner.
As for issues with the PCOS software or source code, Flores announced that it had recently settled its legal dispute with Canada-based Dominion Voting Systems, and renewed a license agreement with them, providing Smartmatic an “unlimited, unencumbered, perpetual access” to Dominion’s technology.
Smartmatic then questioned the timing of the poll watchdogs’ calls to disqualify them from participating in the 2016 polls.
“It’s no coincidence that now, 5 and a half years after the  bid, they come up with these far-fetched accusations to try to prevent us from offering our services,” Smartmatic said, claming that these groups prefer “a return to manual elections.”
‘Yes to extended warranty’
Smartmatic is among the firms that have expressed interest to lease additional voting machines for the 2016 elections. The Comelec bids and awards committee will open all submitted bids on Thursday, December 4.
In addition, the Comelec is set to decide between opening a public bidding or adopting of Smartmatic’s extended warranty for the refurbishment of the existing PCOS machines. (#PHvote wRap: Comelec plans for 2016 voting machines)
Smartmatic made its case for the extended warranty contract, saying that there would be less technical risks of failure and delays in the refurbishment, as well as clear assignment of responsibility if they conduct it themselves.
As the manufacturer of the PCOS machines, Smartmatic said that it has exclusivity agreements with the suppliers of PCOS parts.
If the Comelec would conduct a public bidding, Smartmatic argued, bidders “can only resort to reverse engineering, which can be considered illegal.”
It also said that the Comelec could be held liable for breach of intellectual property clauses in its “Option to Purchase” contract with Smartmatic. – Rappler.com