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High court defers TRO on poll deal payment

Posted on: July 21, 2009

High court defers TRO on poll deal payment

Comelec: Payment on without TRO
By Anna Valmero, Tetch Torres
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:50:00 07/21/2009

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Politics

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court deferred the issuance of a temporary restraining order on the P4-billion initial payment that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) would give to a technology consortium it had tapped to automate the 2010 elections, a court spokesman said.

Instead of stopping the payment, the court ordered Comelec and partners Smartmatic and Total Information Management (TIM) to answer within 10 days the petition against the payment, filed by the Concerned Citizens Movement, Supreme Court public information office chief Midas Marquez.

Asked if the decision paved the way for the initial payment, Marquez said: “The Court leaves that to the sound discretion of the parties considering the pending petition and the scheduled oral arguments.”

Marquez was referring to oral arguments on a separate petition by the CCM to stop the entire P7.2-billion contract between the Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM for the lease of over 80,000 counting machines.

The CCM said the initial payment should be stopped because the government could be on the losing end if case the Supreme Court issues a TRO against the contract.

Without a TRO, Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said the initial payment would proceed.

“Hindi pwedeng i-stop yung payment kasi wala namang TRO [It can’t be stopped because there’s no TRO]. We cannot afford to pause because we will be delayed in having the deliverables according to the tim lines. This is unlike any other government project that can be delayed,” Melo said.

“Why should we not pay them if they were able to deliver? They might not send their next deliverables if we don’t pay the previous deliverables,” he said.

Melo said payments to Smartmatic-TIM are tied to the consortium meeting several targets or milestones. He added that the consortium would be fined for every day of delay in the delivery of equipment.

With a report from Kristine L. Alave, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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