MANILA — Smartmatic International Corporation has the exclusive rights over the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines that were utilized in the country’s last two national polls and is looking to be used in the 2016 elections.
With this, Smartmatic – Asia President Cesar Flores is convinced that they can handle the refurbishing of the PCOS units.
“If you open this (refurbishing project) to other bidders, the other bidders will try to (get into) parts, which they cannot because we have exclusivity on those parts,” he said.
Earlier, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes said that the poll body’s Law Department has already issued a legal opinion saying the commission can just exercise the extended warranty provided by the company if Smartmatic can prove they are the only ones that can provide the necessary services to the PCOS machines.
But, if otherwise, Brillantes said they will hold public bidding for the repair of the 80,000 PCOS units.
This developed as a source said some concerned groups will ask the Comelec to look on the background of another technology provider Indra Sistemas due to reports that is involved in an ongoing corruption investigation in Spain and has a questionable track record in elections.
They are also urging the Comelec to look into reports that the said company was responsible for a failed election in Albania and, more seriously, being actually controlled by the Spanish government, which owns majority shares of the company.
Indra is participating in the bidding for the lease of 23,000 additional PCOS machines along with Smartmatic.
Meanwhile, the counsel for the Spain-based firm has questioned the eligibility of the Venezuelan company from joining in the bidding process.
“We have filed (a manifestation) before the actual demonstration because we believe that Smartmatic-TIM should not be allowed to proceed in the bidding because of that problem,” Atty. Archibald Demata said during a break in the BAC proceedings last Friday.
He cited Smartmatic’s Articles of Incorporation filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) back in 2009 describing its joint venture (JV) with local partner TIM for the primary purpose of offering its services for the automation of the Philippine national election in 2010.
“To do, perform and comply with all obligations and responsibilities of, and accord legal personality to, the joint venture of Total Information Management Corporation (“TIM”) and Smartmatic International Corporation (“Smartmatic”) arising under the Request for Proposal and the Notice of Award issued by the Commission on Elections (“COMELEC”) for the automation of the 2010 national and local election (“Project”), including the leasing, selling, importing, and/or assembling of automated voting machines, computer software and other computer services and/or otherwise deal in all kinds of services to be used, offered or provided to the COMELEC for the preparations and the conduct of the Project, including project management services,” said Smartmatic-TM’s corporation papers.
Demata noted, “Since, the purpose for which Smartmatic-TIM was formed was limited, specific and restricted to the automation of the 2010 national and local elections in the Philippines, to allow the continued participation of Smartmatic-TIM in the 2016 national and local elections, whether on its own or as a member of any joint venture, would be to sanction an illegal or ultra vires act by Smartmatic-TIM.”