Smartmatic: Row with contractor won't affect 2013 polls

By Sheila Crisostomo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Nov 23 2012 07:21 AM | Updated as of Nov 23 2012 10:08 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Smartmatic International Corp. yesterday assured Filipino voters that its dispute with sub-contractor Dominion Voting Systems International Corp. would not affect the country’s midterm elections in 2013.

“Our guarantee to the Philippines is that our lawsuit against one of our sub-contractors has no impact on the development of the elections. We are on track and I want to reassure the public that this won’t have any impact on the elections,” said Smartmatic president for Asia Pacific Cesar Flores.

Smartmatic and Dominion have a worldwide licensing agreement to use the latter’s software, hardware, firmware and technical support to run Smartmatic’s precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, including those purchased by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the midterm polls next year.

But in September, Smartmatic sued Dominion before the Delaware Chancery Court in Florida, accusing the latter of terminating the contract.

According to Flores, Smartmatic could still use Dominion’s technology while the case is still pending and they are very confident of winning the case in the end.

“The contract is between Smartmatic and Comelec. And it’s Smartmatic who guarantees the Comelec access to the technology, to the upgrades and to the source code which will be available for the political parties to review,” he said.
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He added Smartmatic is “fully capable of providing the Comelec with the enhancements and technology” that they need and they will “not be interrupted” in 2013.

“In fact, there are currently about 40 enhancements delivered (by us) and are being certified as we speak in the United States by the certification agency,” Flores said.

He said the enhancements the Comelec wanted introduced in the PCOS machines are “just cosmetic changes in the operations.”

Flores, however, refused to identify them in deference to Comelec.

“Our assurance is that Comelec will have a fully working technology with the enhancements that they have required. And that the source code will be available for review, all the legal reviews that are included in Republic Act 9369 (the poll automation law),” he added.

Meanwhile, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said he would investigate the alleged overpricing of indelible ink to be used in the 2013 polls.

Brillantes though refused to elaborate pending the probe results.

“I will investigate. I will be looking into the records so let’s just wait,” he said.

Brillantes made the comment after Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday expressed his concern over the deal for indelible ink entered into by the Comelec and ASA Color and Chemical Industry Corp.

The deal involves the supply of 21,458 bottles of indelible ink at P140.88 per bottle. The contract price amounted to P3.023 million.