Comelec to Use US Case Against Ex-Poll Chief in Smartmatic Disqualification Appeal

Comelec to use US money laundering case against ex-chairman Bautista in appeal to disqualify Smartmatic from Philippine elections, raising concerns about integrity of electoral process.

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Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Comelec to Use US Case Against Ex-Poll Chief in Smartmatic Disqualification Appeal

Comelec to Use US Case Against Ex-Poll Chief in Smartmatic Disqualification Appeal

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the Philippines is set to include documents and information regarding the money-laundering charges filed in the United States against its former chairman, Andres Bautista, in its appeal of the Supreme Court's decision reversing the disqualification of Smartmatic International from election biddings. Comelec Chairman George Garcia confirmed that the US Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security have officially filed the case against Bautista in a US District Court in the Southern District of Florida.

The case involves alleged bribes Bautista received from Smartmatic executives in exchange for awarding the company a contract for election machines in the 2016 polls. Comelec had previously disqualified Smartmatic from participating in biddings after the US government investigated the company's alleged illegal activities. However, the Supreme Court ruled that Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying Smartmatic.

Garcia stated that the information from the US case will be included in a motion for reconsideration to prove that their decision to disqualify Smartmatic was justified. "The documents are now public and officially admitted in court," he said. Comelec was previously prevented from including the information due to a mutual legal defense treaty, but has now received the green light to discuss the US case more extensively after meeting with US representatives.

Why this matters: The inclusion of the US case against Bautista in Comelec's appeal could have significant implications for the integrity and credibility of the Philippines' election process. The alleged bribery scheme involving Smartmatic raises serious concerns about the company's involvement in the country's polls and the need for strict oversight in the procurement of election technology.

Comelec is also conducting its own investigation into Smartmatic's attempts to influence the procurement for the 2016 elections. A special investigating panel has been created to review the proceedings related to the awarding of the controversial poll automation contract. Bautista has denied the allegations against him and maintained his innocence, but has since gone into hiding. Comelec Chairman Garcia emphasized that the disqualification of Smartmatic was a "significant step" taken to safeguard the integrity and credibility of the country's elections.

Key Takeaways

  • Comelec to include US case against ex-chair Bautista in appeal to disqualify Smartmatic
  • Bautista allegedly received bribes from Smartmatic for awarding 2016 election machines contract
  • Comelec previously disqualified Smartmatic, but Supreme Court ruled it was an abuse of discretion
  • Comelec conducting own investigation into Smartmatic's attempts to influence 2016 poll automation
  • Disqualification of Smartmatic seen as a step to safeguard integrity of Philippines elections