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Watchdog group to ask Comelec to blacklist Smartmatic from 2016 preparations

An election watchdog group is readying another petition to keep Smartmatic – Total Information Management (TIM) Corporation from participating in the 2016 elections.
Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E) co-convenor Alain Pascua said they will use the disqualification of Smartmatic-TIM during the post-qualification evaluation for the new Optical Mark Reader (OMR) machines, as basis for the petition.

The firm has appealed its disqualification by the Comelec Bids and Awards Committee.
“Smartmatic-TIM should not be allowed to participate any further, given its numerous violations, deficiencies, and sins of omission,” Pascua said.
The group is also planning to include the Supreme Court ruling that voided the negotiated contract between the Comelec and Smartmatic for the refurbishment of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.
“The Comelec should blacklist Smartmatic-TIM from any election-related activities and bids in order to ensure transparency and credibility in 2016,” the C3E officer added.
Pascua said the group hopes Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista will look into their petition. “We are optimistic in the openness shown by the new chairman, and we hope that he finds merit in our cause,” he said.
Last year, the Comelec denied C3E's petition, saying the group had no legal personality to initiate the blacklisting bid.
Pascua said they are worried that the disqualification of Smartmatic-TIM in the bidding for 23,000 OMR units would allow the service provider in the 2010 and 2013 polls the opportunity to correct the problems, and increase its chances in two upcoming public biddings for the 2016 automated election system.
“Perhaps the disqualification will give Smartmatic sufficient time to cure its corporate papers and become spotless for the next bidding,” he added.
Earlier, the Comelec announced that they will hold parallel public biddings for contracts for the refurbishment of the PCOS machines and for the lease of new OMR machines for next year’s polls. — JDS, GMA News