Philippines Bans Vote Machine Firm Implicated In US Bribery Probe

Philippines Bans Vote Machine
(April 04 2022)……..Commission on Election James Jimenez demonstrated to the beginner voters with DILG Usec. Jonathan Malaya during the Launching of the series of the information drive on responsible voting of the youth in the 2022 local and national elections held at Marikina Convention Center, Marikina City......Photo/Analy Labor

The Philippines’ election regulator on Wednesday banned a voting machine firm from bidding for election contracts after the company was implicated in a corruption probe launched by the US government.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it banned Smartmatic Philippines Inc., a local unit of its London-headquartered parent firm, due to the threat it posed to the “integrity” of future Philippine elections.

The ban stems from an investigation launched by the US Justice Department against former Comelec chairman Andres Bautista for alleged corruption, conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering, according to the Comelec ruling released to reporters.

“Given the gravity of allegations related to bribery and compromised procurement processes, as independently determined by foreign bodies, the Commission recognises the imminent threat to the strength and integrity of our democratic processes,” it said.

“Smartmatic Philippines, Inc. is disqualified and disallowed from participating in any public bidding process for elections.”

Smartmatic said in a statement sent to AFP that the ruling has “unjustly besmirched” its reputation, as the company itself “has not been indicted in the United States”.

US prosecutors had sought the Philippine government’s help to obtain official Comelec records as part of efforts to build the case against Bautista and others, it said.

Bautista earlier wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that he “did not ask for nor receive any bribe money from Smartmatic or any other entity”.

He said the 2016 election that he presided over was “hailed by various independent national and local election stakeholders as the best managed in our electoral history”.

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Written by colinnew

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