MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC), in its en banc session today, did not issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of petitions assailing the legality of the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) purchase of Smartmatic-TIM's 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines for over P1 billion.
Instead, the high court, which is holding its summer session at the SC compound in Baguio City, directed the poll body to submit its comment to separate petitions filed by the Solidarity for Sovereignty (S4S) and AES Watch, led by former Vice-president Teofisto Guingona, Jr., within 10 days. After the submission of Comelec's comment, the high court will rule on petitioners' plea for the temporary restraining relief.
"The Court has not yet acted on the prayer for TRO, but the Court has asked for the respondent's comment and will decide on the prayer for TRO thereafter," said Court spokesman and Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez.
S4S and AES Watch filed their respective petitions last April 10, urging the high court to nullify the Deed of Sale between the poll body and Smartmatic-TIM.
The Comelec approved the Deed of Sale for the total amount of P1.8 billion last March 30, a day before Smartmatic-TIM's offer of extension of the June 2009 automation contract for the May 2010 presidential elections.
The petitions alleged that the poll body should have conducted public bidding for the purchase or lease of equipment, technology and facilities for the 2013 midterm elections. The petitions also cited preparatory, procedural and technical glitches involving the use of the PCOS machines in the 2010 polls as one of the reasons why the machines should not have been purchased.
The high court had earlier directed the Comelec to file its comment to a similar petition filed by Davao City Archbishop Fernando Capalla, former Marawi City Mayor Omar Ali, and former Quezon City Rep. Mary Anne Susano.