D E C I S I O N: ITF vs. Comelec (January 13, 2004)From the sounds of the Ombudsman's 52 page decision, she's now lawyering for the very people the Supreme Court condemned in the above -- by repeating the very arguments rejected by the Court in its original decision. How can it be that the Supreme Court has voided a contract for the nation's automated elections system, charging the Comelec with grave abuse of discretion and other crimes and misdemeanors, and yet the Ombudsman declines to prosecute any of the principal accused?
There is grave abuse of discretion (1) when an act is done contrary to the Constitution, the law or jurisprudence; or (2) when it is executed whimsically, capriciously or arbitrarily out of malice, ill will or personal bias. In the present case, the Commission on Elections approved the assailed Resolution and awarded the subject Contract not only in clear violation of law and jurisprudence, but also in reckless disregard of its own bidding rules and procedure. For the automation of the counting and canvassing of the ballots in the 2004 elections, Comelec awarded the Contract to “Mega Pacific Consortium” an entity that had not participated in the bidding. Despite this grant, the poll body signed the actual automation Contract with “Mega Pacific eSolutions, Inc.,” a company that joined the bidding but had not met the eligibility requirements.
Comelec awarded this billion-peso undertaking with inexplicable haste, without adequately checking and observing mandatory financial, technical and legal requirements. It also accepted the proferred computer hardware and software even if, at the time of the award, they had undeniably failed to pass eight critical requirements designed to safeguard the integrity of elections, especially the following three items:
· They failed to achieve the accuracy rating criteria of 99.9995 percent set-up by the Comelec itself
· They were not able to detect previously downloaded results at various canvassing or consolidation levels and to prevent these from being inputted again
· They were unable to print the statutorily required audit trails of the count/canvass at different levels without any loss of data
Because of the foregoing violations of law and the glaring grave abuse of discretion committed by Comelec, the Court has no choice but to exercise its solemn “constitutional duty” to void the assailed Resolution and the subject Contract. The illegal, imprudent and hasty actions of the Commission have not only desecrated legal and jurisprudential norms, but have also cast serious doubts upon the poll body’s ability and capacity to conduct automated elections. Truly, the pith and soul of democracy -- credible, orderly, and peaceful elections -- has been put in jeopardy by the illegal and gravely abusive acts of Comelec.
All I can say is...We must withdraw consent to be so misgoverned, or bear our chains in abashed silence!