THE decision of the Commission on Elections to disqualify Smartmatic Philippines Inc. from participating in any public bidding process for elections is “unfair,” the poll technology firm said on Thursday.
In a statement, Smartmatic said the basis for their disqualification was “not even part of the complaint” filed against them in June by former Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary Eliseo Mijares Rio Jr. and others.
Comelec Chairman George Garcia said on Wednesday the decision to disqualify Smartmatic was “not based on the allegations of Rio and company.” (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2023/11/30/comelec-bars-smartmatic-from-election-bids/)
The resolution stated that the commission based the decision on “the gravity of allegations related to bribery and compromised procurement process.”
“We are very confident that had Comelec informed us of the matter, allowed us to explain our side and present countervailing evidence, the unfair disqualification would not have been meted out,” said Smartmatic.
According to the technology firm, they are not facing any formal charge in the United States, making the basis of their disqualification “not only false, but non-existent.”
Smartmatic added: “A false accusation and, more so, a disqualification on the basis of a non-existent grounds is not only legally and morally wrong, but plain unfair.”
In a press conference on Thursday, Garcia noted that the disqualification was “a very difficult decision, but nonetheless, it was the right decision.”
According to Garcia, five of the commissioners in the En Banc have voted in favor of the disqualification, one had a separate opinion, and one favored all official business.
Despite the stand of Smartmatic, the poll body still stood by the decision to bar them from election bids.
“We disqualified Smartmatic because we wanted to preserve the integrity of the electoral process,” said Garcia.
The poll body also disagrees with Smartmatic’s claim that it got an “unfair” ruling.
“Sabi ng Korte Suprema [The Supreme Court said], so long as due process was observed by an agency or body or part of government, then there is no grave abuse of discretion,” he explained.
Asked to specify the basis of their decision, Garcia refused to answer, citing that anything they say could be used against them in the Supreme Court.
“Again, it is an issue of credibility and an issue of integrity. Wala pong substitute para maprotektahan ng inyong Commission on Elections ang integridad ng ating halalan (There is no substitute for Comelec to protect the integrity of our elections),” said Garcia.