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The Commission on Elections may push through with its scheduled December 4 public bidding for the purchase of additional and new counting machines for the 2016 elections.
This, after the Supreme Court on Tuesday did not issue the temporary restraining order being requested by petitioners Homobono Adaza and Jonathan Siñel, who accused the Comelec of grave abuse of discretion for scheduling the bidding without first conducting inventory of the more than 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines used in the last polls.
Instead, the high court gave the Comelec 10 days from receipt of the resolution to comment on the petitioners' plea against the public bidding, said SC Public Information Office chief and spokesman Theodore Te, who added that was a "standard action for [a] petition."
The petitioners claimed the Comelec 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 claimed the Comelec violated Article 9, C, Section 2(5) Paragraph 2 of the 1987 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 Dec. 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.
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. — Mark Merueñas/RSJ, GMA News