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Ombudsman asked to probe Comelec-Smartmatic PCOS repair deal


Calling on the Ombudsman’s mandate to investigate any public official or agency, a former lawyer for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday asked the Office of the Ombudsman to look into an allegedly anomalous deal entered by the poll body and Smartmatic.

In his “request for assistance” affidavit, lawyer Melchor Magamo said the P268.8-million deal to extend the warranty of some 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines inked by the Comelec and Smartmatic could be illegal and unjust precisely because the nature of a warranty is that it must be free of charge, and must not have negative repercussions for the insured.

In his affidavit signed along with other members of the Citizens of Clean and Credible Elections, Magamo also highlighted other supposed irregularities in the Comelec-Smartmatic deal.

“Smartmatic made proposals to 'refurbish' the PCOS. Other companies with much better reputations can easily refurbish the PCOS at much lower prices but Smartmatic insists that the warranty extensions prohibit the Comelec from engaging others,” the affidavit said.

Smartmatic was also able to avoid competitive bidding and monopolize poll automation, according to Magamo and his co-petitioners.

In their affidavit and request for investigation, Magamo reminded the Ombudsman that as the original owners of the vote-counting machines, the Comelec should not be tied to a warranty agreement that is not beneficial to the government.

“Smartmatic is merely a past reseller with a present warranty obligation to repair or replace any equipment found to contain manufacturing defects,” they said.

Last week, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on the diagnostics, repair and refurbishment of the 82,000 PCOS machines, as formalized in the contract between the Comelec and the Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corporation.
 
The SC has temporarily put a stop on the Comelec-Smartmatic repair deal following a petition alleging that the contract is in violation of Republic Act 9184 or the government procurement act.

Earlier, a petition was filed with the SC seeking to declare as null and void both Comelec Resolution No. 9922 and the signed contract between the poll body and Smartmatic. —KBK, GMA News
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