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'Physical delivery' of VCMs expected of Comelec by Dec. 1 deadline, says Smartmatic exec

Technology provider Smartmatic was expecting the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to "physically" turn over more than 97,000 vote counting machines (VCMs) it leased for the May polls.

In an interview, Smartmatic executive Elie Moreno said the poll body was expected to return the machines to them in the same manner that the technology provider delivered them upon lease.

"The contract says 'possession' of the machines," Moreno, general manager in the Philippines, told GMA News on Tuesday. "Well in practical terms... when Comelec received the machines, we actually brought them to the warehouse, delivered to them, did the processes, and it's only at that time that the delivery is considered actually executed. So we expect that to happen also."

Moreno met with Comelec chair Andres Bautista and Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, steering head for the May polls, to discuss the P2 billion Smartmatic charged the Comelec over the delayed return of the VCMs.

It still remains uncertain whether the Comelec would have to pay the amount, as no agreement was reached during the meeting.

"We were requested to submit a position paper to them because some of the commissioners were not here, so we will prepare that and submit it to Comelec for them to analyze," Moreno said.

Moreno noted that they have not "invoiced" Comelec for the P2-billion charge pending this question, but he reiterated their position that the poll body should have made a "physical" turnover of the machines by Dec. 1.

This is despite a letter from Lim dated Nov. 28, signifying that the poll body was already turning over the VCMs.

"If you will rent an apartment, at the end of your rental period, you tell your lessor, 'Okay, the apartment is yours now,' but still you cannot enter into the apartment, you cannot access the apartment, you have not received back your apartment. So that's our position basically.  We are expecting to receive the machines and that is not happening yet," he said.

He added that Lim's letter was only for "a paper turnover."

Comelec, for its part, has said it has made a "constructive delivery" through the said letter. —KBK, GMA News