MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court affirmed Tuesday the legality of the contract awarding the compact flash contract to Smartmatic which will be used in the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.
In its ruling, the high court dismissed the petition filed by LDLA Marketing for lack of jurisdiction.
The high court said petitioners should have followed the procedure stated under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.
Under the law, the disqualified or losing bidder should file a motion for reconsideration with the Bids and Awards Committee, in case of denial, file a protest with the Head of the Procuring Entity (HOPE), in this case, the Comelec Chairperson or the Comelec en banc.
“It is only after the HOPE has resolved the protest that the bidder may resort to the regular courts under Section 58 of RA 9184,” the high court explained.
Section 58 provides that “Court action may be resorted to only after the protests contemplated in this Article shall have been completed. Cases that are filed in violation of the process specified in this Article shall be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The regional trial court shall have jurisdiction over final decision of the head of the procuring entity…”
Petitioner LDLA did not avail of the remedies provided by the law and under existing jurisprudence, the court is without jurisdiction to hear the petition because “compliance with the mandatory protest mechanisms of the law is jurisdictional in character.”
Smartmatic got the contract for transmission modems as the sole bidder, while it got the contracts for transmission services and the CF cards through negotiated contracts after failed biddings.