Smartmatic Biometrics Deal at odds in Philippines
The fate of the next Philippine elections could hang in the balance if a ruling will not be reached regarding the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines in due time, reports the Manila Standard.
The Supreme Court has yet to come up with a ruling regarding the purchase of the scanners for the 2013 midterm polls after several groups filed petitions against it.
Various groups have submitted their petitions to the high court, protesting the contract entered by both the Comelec and Smartmatic. The Commission on Elections is in talks with Smartmatic to purchase about 82,000 of its units, even though its option to purchase the machines expired in December 2010 and it did not go through the Bids and Awards Committee. Under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act, any new contract entered by a private enterprise with the Philippine Government must undergo bidding. The Comelec instead opted to automatically renew negotiations with Smartmartic without undergoing the process.
The Comelec Advisory Council, has previously recommended to the Commission not to exercise the option to purchase as the time for renewing the contract has clearly lapsed.
With less than a year before the midterm elections, the Supreme Court has to announce a decision soon in order for the polls to proceed as scheduled. The SC Justices will be holding a special session for oral arguments as the case ranks high in the Judiciary’s priority list.