Comelec mulls sanctions vs Smartmatic for foul-ups

Comelec mulls sanctions vs Smartmatic for foul-ups
KIMBERLY JANE T. TAN
GMANews.TV

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is considering penalizing poll machine supplier Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) for the glitches in the automated election system that will be used during the May 10 polls.

In a chance interview with reporters, Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal admitted that the poll body is thinking of how it can make the technology provider “pay” for its recent foul-ups.

The commissioner issued the statement after some precinct count optical scan (PCOS) units tested last Monday failed to read some votes accurately, forcing them to pull out and replace all the compact flash (CF) cards. (See: Some poll machines fail to read votes accurately)

On Tuesday, Smartmatic Asia president Cesar Flores admitted that they were at fault for “human error” in the configuration of the CF cards. (See: Smartmatic assumes responsibility for PCOS machine glitches)

Larrazabal refused to divulge, however, whether the possible penalty for the supplier would be monetary or otherwise.

“Those who are liable will be held liable. Those who are negligent will be held accountable. But for now, let us work together to ensure that the elections will work on May 10, 2010,” he said at a separate press briefing.

Poll body spokesperson James Jimenez likewise said that they have to focus first on the task at hand. “First order of business is to get this going… best to get the elections over and done with and then settle accounts,” he told GMANews.TV in a text message.

He said that there is still time later to thoroughly discuss what Smartmatic’s liabilities are.

Earlier in the day, Commission on Human Rights chair Leila de Lima said that the technology provider can be made to answer in case of failure of elections “theoretically and hypothetically.”

She added that if their offense qualifies as electoral sabotage in the highest degree, they might even face life imprisonment. She even said that the CHR is willing to pursue the case should the situation call for it.

Flores, for his part, said that their company is “committed” to the success of the elections. He likewise said that they have no plans of abandoning the automation project.

“I also offered Comelec to take my passport, I’m more than willing to surrender it,” he said on Thursday. —JV, GMANews.TV

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.