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Comelec to summon Smartmatic chief on ballots for 2013 polls

MANILA, Philippines - Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes said yesterday they will summon Smartmatic president Cesar Flores to explain his concerns regarding the ballots to be used in the May 2013 midterm polls.

Smartmatic has been questioning the P780-million contract awarded by the National Printing Office (NPO) to Holy Family Inc. to supply and print the ballots for the 2013 polls. Smartmatic was disqualified from the bidding.

Flores reportedly warned of a massive election failure next year unless the Comelec orders a rebidding of the contract for ballot printing.

“I think they (Smartmatic) are doing that because they lost in all the biddings that they participated in. They kept on talking about it in media. Why don’t they talk to us? They are now like the detractors (who are questioning the automated election system),” Brillantes said.

The NPO had been contracted by the Comelec to supply and print some 55 million ballots for next year’s elections. However, the NPO outsourced the supply and services.

Flores complained that Holy Family failed to meet the bidding requirements and that its sample ballots failed the testing procedures.

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He expressed concerns that when elections fail next year, it would be blamed on the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines bought by the Comelec from Smartmatic.

Reports showed that 1,000 sample ballots should have been tested but Holy Family brought only eight samples. Of the eight sample ballots, six did not fit into the PCOS machines.

But Brillantes said that Comelec representatives were present during the testing.

NPO execs charged

Meanwhile, the Office of the Ombudsman has filed graft charges against NPO officials for the questionable procurement of official receipt (OR) forms of the Cebu provincial government worth P3.62 million last February.

Charged with violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were NPO director Emmanuel Andaya, NPO chief administrative officer Sylvia Banda, printing operations chief Josefina Samson and Antonio Sillona, NPO budget officer Bernadette Lagumen, and NPO printing operations assistant chief Ma. Gracia Enriquez.

Also included in the charge sheet were Ivan and Vincent Go of JI Printers, Inc. of Cebu City.

Graft investigation and prosecution officer I Blesilda Quano ordered the filing of charges against the respondents before the Sandiganbayan.

The charges against the respondents stemmed from the complaint filed by Guillermo Sylianteng Jr., who claimed that the OR forms were overpriced.

– With Rainier Allan Ronda

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