The Supreme Court has ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) to answer the allegations raised by a national organization of lawyers that the P268.8-million contract for the diagnostic of all the 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan voting machines (PCOS) is void for lack of public bidding. “The court required respondents (Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM) to comment within a non-extendible period of 10 days on the petition…,” high court’s Information Chief Theodore Te said at a press conference. Te clarified that the high court has not acted on the prayer for a restraining order filed by IBP. IBP, in its petition said Comelec Resolution No. 9922, which approved the contract, is null and void because it violated Republic Act No. 9184, otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act.
“Comelec’s approval [of the contract] constitutes grave abuse of discretion as it grossly violates the requirement of public and competitive bidding under RA 9184 which was enacted to ensure transparency in procurement processes conducted by the government,” IBP said.
The Comelec said that due to time constraints they have resorted to skip public bidding. But petitioner said Comelec’s reason is not among the conditions to allow direct contract.
Under the Procurement Act, direct contract is allowed only when the goods to be bought can exclusively be obtained from the proprietary source; when the Procurement of critical components from a specific manufacturer, supplier or distributor is a condition precedent to hold a contractor to guarantee its project performance, in accordance with the provisions of his contract; or, goods can only be bought to a dealer or manufacturer that does not have sub dealers selling at a lower price.