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MANILA, Philippines -– Voting 11-3, the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday dismissed the four petitions challenging the validity of the purchase of the P1.81-billion precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from information technology provider Smartmatic.
The P1.81-billion 80,000 PCOS machines were used during the May 10, 2010 synchronized automated national and local elections and the same would also be used for the May 13, 2013 mid-term elections.
The petitioners are Davao City Archbishop Fernando Capalla, former Marawi City Mayor Omar Ali, former Quezon City Rep. Mary Anne Susano, Solidarity for Sovereignty (S4S), represented by Ma. Linda Montayre, Ramon Pedrosa, Benjamin Paulino Sr., Evelyn Coronel, and Nelson Montayre and the Automated Election System (AES).
At a press conference, SC Acting Spokesperson Atty. Maria Victoria Gleoresty Guerra said that the Court found that the main contract for the automated election system (ACS) between Comelec and Smarmatic containing the option to purchase (OTP) the PCOS machines was still existing when Smartmatic extended the period of said OTP and when Comelec exercised the said option, as the performance security bond had not yet been returned to Smartmatic.
Guerra said that the Court has also lifted the temporary restraining order (TRO) it had issued, so the Comelec is now free to implement the contract for the purchase of the PCOS machines.
Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes praised the high court for its ruling. "We are elated with the decision of the Supreme Court," he said on Wednesday.
“We will be happier if the petitioners can join us in moving forward for a successful May 2013 elections,” he added, noting that "it is time to go together,” because the high tribunal had already settled the issue through the ruling.
The ponente of the decision was Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta.
Peralta was joined by Acting Chief Justice Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio and Associate Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, Lucas P. Bersamin, Mariano C. Del Castillo, Roberto A. Abad, Jose Portugal Perez, Jose Catral Mendoza, Lourdes Aranal Sereno and Bienvenido L. Reyes.
Associate Justice Martin S. Villarama Jr.'s dissenting opinion was joined by Associate Justices Arturo Brion and Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe.
The decision is currently being circulated for signatures.
Within 15 days upon receipt of the decision, the petitioners can file their respective motion for reconsideration.