The Philippine Commission on Elections has banned Smartmatic Philippines Inc. from future elections due to allegations of bribery and corruption.
The decision followed claims that the commission chairman was paid off to ensure Smartmatic won the contract for the 2016 elections.
The commission expressed concerns about the potential damage to public trust and the integrity of the electoral process. (Trending: Bombshell Email Uncovered Between Joe Biden And Hunter)
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The U.S. government’s request for information related to potential violations of American laws was also a factor in the decision.
“Although these allegations, stemming from incidents potentially spanning at least three election cycles, have not been conclusively proven, their gravity and potential to damage public trust warrant the Commission (En banc’s) proactive measures to safeguard the integrity of elections and democratic institutions,” the commission stated.
“It is noteworthy that Bautista, who served as the Chairman of the Commission, was formally charged in September 2023, in connection with allegations of receiving bribes in exchange for awarding a contract for election machines to Smartmatic Corp,” the commission wrote.
“Bautista and others are alleged to have laundered the bribe money through multiple entities. It was revealed that Bautista established a foreign shell company, which was used to receive bribe payments from Smartmatic.”
“The charges against Smartmatic and former Chairman Bautista are of public knowledge and tend to cause speculation and distrust of the electoral process.”
“Given the gravity of allegations related to bribery and compromised procurement processes, as independently determined by foreign bodies, the Commission recognizes the imminent threat to the strength and integrity of our democratic processes.”
“In the light of these findings the Commission acknowledges the imminent peril to the integrity and robustness of our democratic institutions,” it added.
“The decision is on the integrity of the procurement then and not, we repeat, not, the integrity of any automated elections conducted in the Philippines, particularly that of the 2022 NLE,” commission representative John Rex C. Laudiangco said.
The commission emphasized that the decision did not cast doubt on the integrity of the 2016 elections but focused on the integrity of the procurement process.