Comelec to include case vs. ex-chief in Smartmatic ruling plea

By Ferdinand Patinio

April 24, 2024, 3:59 pm

<p>Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman George Garcia (right)<em> (PNA photo by Ferdinand Patinio)</em></p>

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman George Garcia (right) (PNA photo by Ferdinand Patinio)

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is looking to include the money laundering case filed against its former chief Andres Bautista before a United States court in its motion for reconsideration (MR) on the Supreme Court's ruling, voiding the disqualification of service provider Smartmatic International from bidding in its projects.

“Definitely (we will include these) because this time it is out in the open. It is now public, officially admitted in court, we will definitely include that in the event that we file the motion for reconsideration,” Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia said in a media forum in Manila on Wednesday.

Garcia, however, refused to elaborate on the merits of the case.

He said the case against Bautista will prove that their decision to disqualify Smartmatic from participating in the poll automation project bidding for the 2025 polls has basis.

“Iyon gusto namin patunayan (That is what we want to prove), when we issued the disqualification of the company, hindi yun hinulaan lang namin. May basis kami. Yun basis namin (we did not just guess it. We have a basis and that is our basis). Ngayon lumabas (ang) case (Now, the case has surfaced). So we will have to watch. So I would like to confirm, that based on our communication with the US authorities, it was confirmed that the case is officially filed in a district court in the US,” Garcia said.

In September last year, the US government filed money laundering charges against Bautista, in connection with the alleged money laundering activities involving executives from Smartmatic, which bagged the 2016 poll automation project of Comelec.

The allegation prompted Comelec to disqualify the Venezuelan company from participating in all election-related procurement projects for the 2025 polls.

The case was brought to the SC, which ruled that the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it disqualified Smartmatic from bidding for the 2025 automated election system.

Meanwhile, Garcia said the special investigating panel is reviewing the procurement proceedings in 2016, on the possible charges against Smartmatic in relation to the awarding of the poll automation contract.

"We want to know who are the others involved if indeed the 2016 bidding was rigged. It cannot be just one person. But the US case only has jurisdiction against one person, not the others involved," Garcia said.

"Who are the conspirators? This is why we created this panel. And the US DOJ (Department of Justice) provided us with some documents that are now being reviewed by our panel," he said. (PNA)