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Comelec defends contracts awarded to Smartmatic for Eleksyon 2022

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday defended the two contracts it awarded to poll technology provider Smartmatic, saying the company won through an open bidding process.

Early this month, Smartmatic bagged a P402.7-million contract to provide software that will be used in the May 2022 automated elections. Last December, the Venezuela-based company reportedly secured a P637.4-million deal to refurbish vote counting machines and supply SD cards and cleaning sheets.

“We conducted a bidding and they (Smartmatic) won,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in an interview with Super Radyo dzBB.

Jimenez said the Comelec follows the government’s procurement process by soliciting project proposals.

“At this point there is no basis to say our bidders committed violations. Those who violated will be put under the blacklist,” he said.

Gus Lagman of the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections, meanwhile, expressed disappointment over the selection of Smartmatic despite alleged issues with its vote counting machines.

He suggested to the Comelec to encourage Filipino IT companies to jointly bid for the automated election system.

“The tabulation of votes is not difficult. However, it seems there is no Filipino IT company that has the enough [resources] to support this nationwide project,” Lagman, a former Comelec commissioner, told Super Radyo dzBB.

“Why would we allow a foreign company and foreign technical people to run our elections?”

Smartmatic has been the country's poll technology provider since the Philippines adopted the electronic voting technology in 2010.

In 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte urged the Comelec to get rid of Smartmatic and look for a new one "that is free of fraud."—AOL, GMA News