By Charmaine A. Tadalan
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) will review its procedures in awarding contracts to election technology providers, following President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s remarks Thursday night against Smartmatic.
“I would like to advise Comelec now… dispose of that Smartmatic and look for a new one that is free of fraud,” Mr. Duterte said in his speech during his meeting with the Filipino community in Japan.
He also proposed the government should do away with the public bidding requirement in securing contracts, which Comelec Spokesperson James B. Jimenez said the poll body will explore.
“Kami sa Comelec ay pag-aaralan namin ‘yan. Isa sa mga nabanggit ng Presidente ay tanggalin na ‘yung sistema ng bidding at magandang nabanggit niya ‘yan dahil isa itong pagkilala na ang Comelec… sumusunod sa rules on public bidding at ang Smartmatic ang nananalo sa bidding natin,” Mr. Jimenez said in a press briefing Friday. (We in Comelec will study this. The President proposed, among other things,that the bidding process be removed, and I think it’s good that he mentioned it, as it acknowledges that Comelec follows the rules on public bidding, and that Smartmatic won our bidding.)
“Kung matanggal ‘yung proseso ng bidding, matanggal ‘yung requirement for a public bidding, then maybe there’s something we can work with.” (If the bidding is removed, if that is no longer a requirement, then maybe there’s something we can work with.)
Mr. Jimenez also clarified that Comelec only awards the contract. “Walang hold ang Smartmatic sa Comelec kundi lamang sila nananalo sa bidding natin,” he said. (Smartmatic has no hold on the Comelec other than that it won the bidding.)
For his part, opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan said in a statement the administration’s allies should be held accountable for violating election laws. he also flagged Malacannang’s releasing a “baseless” narco-list and Mr. Duterte’s threatening local politicians for not supporting his candidates.
Mr. Pangilinan also criticized the Comelec for having “named a party allied with the majority as the ‘dominant minority.’ This is contrary to our laws, common sense, and the spirit of democracy.”