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SC asked to stop Comelec’s bidding for new counting machines

The Supreme Court on Wednesday has been asked to stop the Commission on Elections from conducting a public bidding for the purchase of additional and new counting machines for the 2016 elections.
In a 19-page petition, Homobono Adaza and Jonathan Siñel accused the Comelec of grave abuse of discretion for scheduling the December 4 bidding without first conducting inventory of the more than 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines used in the last polls.
The petitioners also claimed the Comelec has failed to subject the counting machines to technical and forensic tests. They said the machines are stored in warehouses without configuration facilities.
"Without making the inventory and desired tests, it is absolutely a grave abuse of power for Comelec to disburse billion of pesos and conduct bidding for acquisition of voting machines "which may not be necessary and will involve wastage of billions of pesos."
The petitioners said the Comelec violated Article 9, C, Section 2(5) Paragraph 2 of the Philippine Constitution for allowing Smartmatic-TIM Corp to participate in the December 4 bidding.
"To allow a foreign element to participate in the public bidding on December 4, 2014 is not only allowing it to influence the May 2016 elections, it is to control the elections as it badly controlled it, especially the May 2010 elections," read the petition.
In an interview with reporters during the filing, Adaza said he wondered why the Comelec seemed to be "rushing" the public bidding.
"Why have another bidding? They can't even determine how many machines they need. For all we know the 88,000 machines are no longer usable because they transferred the machines to a warehouses which do not have configuration facilities that will result destruction of the machines," Adaza said.
Named respondents in the petition were the Comelec, represented by its chairman Sixto Brilliantes Jr, as well as Smartmatic-TIM Corp.
The petitioners said they filed the petition as voters, Filipino citizens, and "probable candidates for public office in the coming 2016 elections."
The Comelec acquired the 80,000 PCOS machines from Smartmatic for P1.8 billion.
The Comelec earlier said it might purchase about 40,000 units of the secondary optical mark reader technology in addition to the 80,000 PCOS machines purchased in the previous elections.—NB, GMA News