My Suspicious and Malicious Mind Smells Something Fishy With the Pullout of TIM From Poll Automation

The local partner of the consortium which won the poll automation contract for the 2010 elections suddenly and mysteriously pulled out of the consortium, effectively putting a monkey wrench into the first fully automated elections in the Philippines.

After a very tedious and lengthy process which was the most transparent procurement process in the government’s history, participated in not just by government agencies such as the COA and the Ombudsman but by NGOs and other civil society organizations and election watchdog groups, the Filipino partner backed out from the contract two days before its final signing.

Throw in all the time and expense involved in the passage of the law authorizing the automated elections and the appropriations that accompanied it, the emotional debates which transpired in Congress and the public discourses that occupied the headlines and airwaves for months, the billion-peso contract is now in danger of not pushing through.

The logical question of course, is “WHY?”.

While there were those who supported and worked for an automated election in 2010, there were also those who expressed apprehension and even opposition to it. Some were merely afraid of the unknown, since automated elections are an entirely novel idea in the country. Some were afraid that it would only result in automated cheating. But I’m sure there were some who did not want a departure from the old system, where cheating was already elevated not only to a skill but to an art where unscrupulous individuals earn and immoral candidates win.

So my suspicious and malicious mind is wondering…could there have been an unseen hand which caused the retreat of TIM from the contract? That after failing to stop the procurement process through machinations and manipulation, a final act had to be done a couple of days before the signing of the contract in order to prevent automation?

It is a curiosity why a winner to a historical multi-billion peso contract will back out at the last minute after surviving the selection process. My suspicious and malicious mind tells me there’s a gun pointed to someone’s head.

The excuse given by TIM is that due to “irreconcilable differences”, they had to back out. They are saying that they had wanted to back out a long time ago, but they hung on in the hope that it will work out. They say that certain agreements were not arrived at so, two days before the contract is finalized, they back out.

In other words, they are saying that they entered into the process and sought to get the contract without having settled matters between their partners. They have effectively sabotaged the automation of the elections.

I say the government should look for ways to penalize them. They should not simply get away with this without suffering the consequences. They have been highly irresponsible in their conduct and have caused loss to the government not just in financial terms but in the cause of cleansing the election process.

This matter should be investigated thoroughly.


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