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Comelec to rule on Smartmatic disqualification

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) may come out today with the decision on whether or not to disqualify technology provider Smartmatic from joining future poll automation projects.

“This one’s final: hopefully, by Wednesday, we will be able to come out with our decision,” Comelec Chairman George Garcia said.

Garcia noted that the poll body has set a deadline to settle the issue with Smartmatic before the submission of bids for the Full Automation System with Transparency Audit/Count (FASTrAC) project on Nov. 28.

“We want to promulgate the decision before the submission of all bidding documents of all looking to participate (in the public bidding),” Garcia pointed out.

Former poll commissioner Augusto Lagman, former Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) secretary Eliseo Rio, retired Col. Leonardo Odoño and former Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines president Franklin Ysaac filed in June a petition to disqualify Smartmatic.

They asked the Comelec to declare Smartmatic ineligible to participate in the forthcoming public bidding for the 2025 automated election system since the May 2022 AES had “serious and material irregularities,” particularly in the transmission and reception of election results.

Smartmatic disputed the allegations against the company, claiming that the disqualification petition was premature.

The firm has expressed its intention to join the bidding for the FASTrAC project.