Comelec disqualifies Smartmatic from all election procurements
By Jennifer T. Santos, Correspondent
MANILA – Chairman George Garcia and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has disqualified Venezuela-based poll systems provider Smartmatic from joining public bidding processes in relation to elections in the country.
In a 17-page resolution,, the poll body en banc granted the petition of former Department of Information and Communications Technology chief Eliseo Rio Jr., former Comelec commissioner Augusto Lagman, Franklin Fayloga Ysaac and Leonardo Odono against the company which was alleged to have been tool to election cheating in the past..
Rio and many groups immediately hailed the Comelec decision.
Smartmatic was the provider of the Philippines’ automated election system in the 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 2022 elections.
“Smartmatic Philippines, Inc. is disqualified and disallowed from participating in any public bidding process for elections, in the exercise of its administrative power to decide all matters affecting the election and in pursuit of its constitutional mandate,” the resolution states.
The poll body added it may order a conduct of recounting of ballots in certain areas in the country.
“Further, the Commission (En Banc) hereby resolves that in the exercise of its administrative power, it may, upon Petitioner’s instance, order the conduct of the recount of ballots in areas in every region in the country, the procedure and extent of which to be determined, and at no cost to petitioner,” the Comelec said.
In granting the petition, the poll body also recognized the imminent threat to the integrity of the country’s electoral process posed by the investigation of the United States government on allegations of irregularities hurled against the company and former Comelec chairperson Andres Bautista, which include bribery payments.
“These allegations not only undermine and cast a shadow over the procurement protocols but also threaten to erode the public’s confidence in the electoral system. Consequently, pursuant to administrative powers which cover all aspects of election, the Commission is compelled to take decisive action to disallow Smartmatic from participating in the procurement process forthwith,” the Comelec added.
It said it “will refer the matter to the Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) for possible permanent disqualification and blacklisting of Smartmatic from all government procurement proceedings, not just in relation to elections.”
Smartmatic, meanwhile, said it has yet to receive a copy of the poll body’s decision.
“However, Smartmatic expresses profound disappointment in the decision made by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disqualify Smartmatic from bidding on the 2025 contract for election technology,” the company said in a statement.
The company also said it has never been indicted in the United States or any other country in connection with any election or election-related contract.
“We urge Comelec officials to conduct this search independently, and to show to the public any indictment against Smartmatic. We are confident there is no such indictment in the United States,” it added.