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MANUAL COUNT LOOMS Firm backs out of 2010 poll automation

Posted on: June 29, 2009

MANUAL COUNT LOOMS
Firm backs out of 2010 poll automation

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:14:00 06/29/2009

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Politics, State Budget & Taxes

MANILA, Philippines — The automation of the 2010 elections was placed in jeopardy after the Filipino partner of the technology consortium that won the bidding for the project backed out, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Jose Melo said.

Melo said officials of Total Information Management Corp. (TIM) informed him that they were withdrawing from their partnership with Dutch firm Smartmatic International.

“They told me they are withdrawing already, citing irreconcilable differences,” Melo said late Monday afternoon.

“We may have to use manual,” Melo said, as he acknowledged that the development put the automation project in jeopardy.

Melo expressed frustration over TIM’s withdrawal, which put at risk the electronic voting exercise and added that the Comelec would sue TIM. “They’re toying with us,” he said.

Earlier, the Comelec suspended contract negotiations with Smartmatic-TIM due to its failure to submit its incorporation papers.

Melo said the joint venture’s certificate of registration from the Securities and Exchange Commission was important because it would establish the legality of the partnership between Smartmatic and TIM.

“That will be the company we will be signing the contract with. If there is no such document, who are we signing the contract with?” Melo said.

“We are just calling off negotiation because we don’t know who we are contracting to,” Melo said in an earlier interview. “It’s effective today [Monday]. There is no use talking to a ghost,” he added.

Melo gave the consortium until Friday to submit its incorporation papers.

If the Comelec calls off the deal with Smartmatic-TIM, the poll body will look into partial automation or continuing manual elections as a last option, Melo said, adding a second bidding was out of the question due to time constraints.

Smartmatic-TIM tendered a P7.2-billion bid for the P11.2-billion automation project. Under the agreement, the consortium will lease 82,200 counting machines to the Comelec.

With a report from Anna Valmero

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