Smartmatic still has P1B coming
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) still owes Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) about P1 billion for the lease of optical mark reader machines and the transmission of the poll results last May.
Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said the foreign-based automated elections service provider, however, still had to submit certain requirements for them to collect payment.
“They still have to submit some more documents and other requirements to us,” Bautista told reporters Friday.
Smartmatic won the P 7.9-billion contract to lease 93,977 OMR machines to the Comelec for the May 2016 national and local elections.
The same service provider also won the contract worth P 558 million to transmit the election results.
This means that Comelec has settled more than half of the P8 billion it was obliged to pay Smartmatic.
It will be recalled that Smartmatic figured in the controversial alteration of programming scripts during the elections. As the polling got under way on May 9, an official of Smartmatic, Marlon Garcia, was called into question for changing the programming script and the hash code of the transparency server.
This was supposedly done to introduce “cosmetic” changes to the system by substituting the letter “ñ” for the “?” character that came up in the names of some candidates.
The incident resulted in a case filed by ex-senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. who accused Smartmatic and the Comelec of violating the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. Marcos lost the vice presidential race to Leni Robredo.
In July, a Comelec fact-finding team cleared Smartmatic of any liability and said the Comelec must still pay the service provider in full.
The investigation team concluded that there were no violations committed and Smartmatic only introduced “cosmetic changes” to the script.
“With the aforesaid findings, the payment of our contractual obligations and retention fees with Smartmatic as provided for in the automated election system contracts should proceed,” it said in its report.
Bautista said the Comelec en banc commissioners were being given enough time to read the report, after which it would decide on its final action.
“We know there’s a criminal case against them, this is why we are treading about this carefully in this administrative proceeding. We want to know if Smartmatic violated any provisions in its contract with the Comelec,” he said.