MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has directed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to submit its formal comment on a petition questioning the poll body's purchase of 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines from election systems firm Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) for P1.8 billion.
In a Resolution by the Court en banc issued on Tuesday, the Comelec was directed to comment within 10 days on the petition filed by Davao City Archbishop Fernando Capalla, former Marawi City Mayor Omar Ali, and former Quezon City Rep. Mary Anne Susano that seeks to nullify the purchase of the machines which were used in the May 2010 presidential elections.
The Comelec said the machines will be used in the mid-term elections next year.
Petitioners argued that the purchase is "illegal and unlawful" since the option to purchase, as stipulated in the contract between Smartmatic-TIM and Comelec, lapsed on Dec. 31, 2010. They also argued that equipment, technology and facilities for next year's polls should undergo public bidding.
The petition also said there were technical glitches and delays in the 2010 polls which were violative of Republic Act (RA) No. 9369 or the Automated Election System Act.
Separate similar petitions were filed by the Solidarity for Sovereignty (S4S) and Automated Elections System (AES) Watch, but were not included in the en banc agenda because these were filed already in the afternoon.
Smartmatic-TIM was awarded the contract for the automation of the 2010 presidential polls on June 9, 2009.
The contract's option to purchase was extended by Smartmatic-TIM up to March 31, 2012.
Comelec formally accepted Smartmatic-TIM's offer of extention last March 27 and approved the Deed of Sale last March 30.