MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) cannot exclude Smartmatic or any private service provider from the elections, a poll official said on Friday.
"We cannot hinder any service provider including Smartmatic," Commissioner Nelson Celis told the Diretsahang Pananaw Forum.
"Personally, even the Comelec they will not hinder anybody who would like to participate in the bidding," he added.
Celis said the poll body is gearing up for an election summit on Jan. 25, 26 and 27, 2023 to discuss preparations for the 2025 midterm national elections.
He said assessments on the performance of previous service providers, including Smartmatic, might be discussed there.
Critics have called for Smartmatic to be excluded from future elections, citing complaints over the automated election system which it has provided the Comelec.
It has been the poll body's automation partner since the country's first automated national election in 2010.
For Celis, the matter of excluding Smartmatic from the procurement activities related to future elections rests on the Supreme Court.
"If that is the public clamor after the election summit then there has to be legal moves, let the Supreme Court handle it," Celis said.