TAGBILARAN CITY – The proposed manual voting due to Supreme Court (SC) decision, voiding the Comelec’s P268.8-million extended warranty contract with technology provider Smartmatic-TIM may be out of the options. Provincial Election supervisor Atty. Eliseo Labaria said in an interview that Comelec can still refurbish the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines that were used during the 2010 and 2013 elelctions despite the setback due to the SC decision.
Earlier, Labaria warned that going back to manual voting would resurrect the cheating style of the electoral exercise just like in olden days. He said that some politicians whom he did not name would be happy if manual voting would take place again. Manual voting may not be pursued since going back to manual voting is against the law as lawmakers warned. But Comelec may be forced to resort to manual voting due to time constraint in preparation for the automation for next year’s general elections, report said.
But even if the PCOS machines numbering 82,000 for the entire country are refurbished, still it would be hard to operate it since only the Smartmatic-TIM has the program. If they don’t sell or give up the program of the PCOS, then there may be no use, he said. The Supreme invalidated the said contract between the Comelec and the Smartmatic-TIM since the former did not follow the provisions of Government procurement law and “it did not meet the requirements for direct contracting under the GPRA.”
Section 50, Art. XVI of the GPRA “allows direct contracting only upon existence of any of three conditions: procurement can be obtained only from the proprietary source; procurement is a condition precedent to hold a contractor to guarantee its project performance, in accordance with the provisions of his contract; or those sold by an exclusive dealer or manufacturer, which does not have sub-dealers selling at lower prices and for which no suitable substitute can be obtained at more advantageous terms to the government,” report said.