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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Senate's Oversight committee summons Comelec, Smartmatic; sets hearing for June 23

Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday said the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on poll automation has summoned officials of the Comelec and winning bidder Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. (TIM) to a hearing on June 23.


"We hope they will be able to answer certain questions which have remained unanswered upto this time," Escudero, who co-chairs the oversight committee, said.


"I'd like especially to know if they are ready to immediately shift to a credible and quick manual count if any of the worst-case scenarios happen. We can't afford to have a failure of elections next year," he said.


The Comelec declared Smartmatic as having won the P11.223 billion contract with "lowest-calculated responsive bid" of P7,191,484,739.48. It bested six other rivals for the largest, single government project under this administration.


Escudero also said he will ask how the delays in the awarding of the contract will affect preparations of the Comelec for the 2010 polls, particularly the registration of new voters.


"They assure us that the elections will push through. The question in most people's minds is whether the first automated elections will work, whether it will reflect the will of the people," he said.


Escudero said another hearing will be scheduled later this month to take up matters which may not be fully discussed in the June 23 hearing.


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