The Chairman of the Commission of Elections (Comelec) of the Philippines represented by its Chairman, Jose Melo, signed a P7.2 billion contract Friday with Smatmatic-TIM joint venture Company for the automation of the 2010 national elections.
The contract signing signals the first ever automated election in the Philippines. A last- minute petition by lawyer Harry Roque for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) did not prevent the Comelec Chairman from signing the contract. Roque cited lack of papers, machine errors during test runs and other bidding violations as his group’s reasons for the filing of TRO.
Among other things, the automation contract calls for the supply, delivery and operation of at least 82,000 computer/counting machines capable of accurately counting the election returns within 24-48 hours and making known the winning candidates within the stated period.
Past Philippines election returns were manually counted and takes several days, sometimes months to finish, allowing cheating and other election fraud in the process.
“We are committed to deliver the machines on schedule and there is enough time based on our projection to manufacture the 82,200 PCOS machines,” said Smartmatic international sales director Cesar Flores.
Melo dismissed the grounds cited by Roque for filing the petition at the Supreme Court such as the bidder's lack of papers and failure to meet requirements of the poll machine error rate.
Melo cited that multinational Smartmatic and local partner TIM submitted a joint venture agreement as part of its bid documents and secured its incorporation papers for joint venture and corporate registration from the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday – the final requirement before the bidder could sign the contract with Comelec.
The Comelec, after signing of the contract with Smartmatic, announced that it will immediately issue a ‘Notice to Proceed’ in favor of the winning bidder so that the manufacturing and procurement of the machines can be started immediately.
Earlier, the Philippine government through special legislation by congress, passed an automation law starting with the 2010 national elections and providing an appropriation of more than P11 billion for its implementation.