Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying Smartmatic — SC

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying Smartmatic � SC
This file photo shows the Commission on Elections headquarters in Manila.
Philstar.com / AJ Bolando, file

Baguio City, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has committed grave abuse of discretion after it disqualified election service provider Smartmatic for the 2025 automated election system bid, the Supreme Court (SC) said.

In a media forum with the members of the press on Wednesday, SC spokesperson Camille Sue Mae Ting said that the high court affirmed Smartmatic's petition for review assailing the poll body's decision.

The decision, which has yet to be released, was decided on by the SC on Tuesday. It was penned by Associate Justice Jose Midas Marquez.

The SC, according to Ting, said that the poll body has committed grave abuse of discretion as it disqualified Smartmatic before its submission of any bid without any reference to the eligibility requirements prescribed by its Bids and Awards Committee.

However, Ting also said that the ruling is not sufficient to nullify the public bidding or the award of contract to Korea-based election service provider Miru Systems, citing "considerations of equity, justice, practicality and doctrine of operative fact."

The doctrine of operative fact means that a law has consequences that could not be ignored. Therefore, the law itself is canceled, but its effects remain.

In a statement, Smartmatic said that the high court's ruling is a "significant victory for fairness and the rule of law."

"We welcome the Supreme Court's ruling in our favor, which restores justice and sends a clear message to those at the helm of Comelec that due process matters," lawyer Christian Robert Lim said in a statement.

In a seperate statement, the poll body welcomed the SC's decision.

"Ang Comelec po ay tinatanggap ang desisyong ng Korte Supreme. Ang pagdedesisyon naman po dito sa kaso ng Smartmatic ay para po sa bayan," Comelec spokesman John Rex Laudiangco said. (The Comelec accepts the decision of the Supreme Court. The decision in the Smartmatic case is for the country.)

In November 2023, Comelec barred Smartmatic from participating in future elections in the country citing "electoral integrity."

The poll body then awarded the contract for vote-counting machines to Miru Systems in February 2024.

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