SC stops repair of 82,000 PCOS machines

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SC stops repair of 82,000 PCOS machines
Supreme Court justices vote 12-2 to temporarily stop the contract between the Comelec and Smartmatic for the repair of vote-counting machines

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, March 24, said it stopped the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from implementing a contract to repair, refurbish, and maintain vote-counting machines for the 2016 elections.

The SC, in particular, issued a temporary restraining (TRO) order against a P268.8-million ($6.08-million) deal for the repair of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. (READ: Comelec checks PCOS machines for 2016

The SC said the vote for the TRO was 12-2.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr wanted oral arguments before the SC releases a TRO, but majority of the justices prevailed.

The TRO came more than a month after the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the official organization of Philippine lawyers, requested the SC to stop the P268.8-million contract between the Comelec and technology provider Smartmatic-TIM.

In a 28-page petition, the IBP said Comelec Resolution 9922, which mandated the contract, is null and void. The IBP said the contract violates Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Then Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr finalized the contract for the diagnostics of PCOS machines before he retired from the poll body in February.

The Comelec, for its part, cited a tight schedule for its decision not to conduct a public bidding. – Paterno Esmaquel II/

*US$1 = P42.21

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