CA: Smartmatic-TIM won bidding

The Court of Appeals has reversed and set aside the temporary restraining order issued by the Manila City court enjoining the implementation of a resolution by  the Commission on Elections declaring Smartmatic-TIM Corp. as winner in the lease of vote-counting machines in the recently concluded elections.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Melchor Sadang, the  CA’s Ninth Division granted the Comelec’s petition assailing the issuance of TRO by Judge Cicero Jurado of Manila City Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, enjoining the poll body from implementing its resolution declaring Smartmatic TIM as the bidder with the lowest calculated responsive bid for the lease of the VCMs for the May 9 polls.

The appellate court ruled that respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the TRO.

“The Order dated July 16, 2015 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, Manila is reversed and set aside and said court is permanently  enjoined/prohibited from enforcing said order. The complaint for injunction of plaintiff Agan Montenegro Malagasa and Co. is dismissed,” the CA  stressed.

Smartmatic-TIM provided more than 92,000 vote-counting machines after winning the two separate public biddings conducted by the Comelec.

Prior to the resolution’s implementation, it was questioned before the Manila City RTC by Agan Montenegro  Malagasa and Company (AMMC), one of the prospective bidders.

Acting on AMMC’s petition,  Judge Jurado issued a TRO on July 16, 2015 enjoining the  Comelec from implementing its assailed resolution.

This prompted the Comelec through the Office of the Solicitor General to file a petition before the CA  assailing the ruling of Judge Cicero, arguing that the lower court committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the TRO.

It also stressed that the petition filed by AMMC is infirmed and that the respondent was not entitled to injunctive relief.

Associate Justices Celia Librea-Leagogo and Amy  Lazaro-Javier concurred with the ruling.

The CA  declared that the Manila RTC erred when it failed to direct the AMMC to implead Smartmatic-TIM as a party defendant considering  that it was an “indispensable party” and that its inclusion in the  case is a “mandatory requirement” for the court to acquire  jurisdiction over the case.

“Unfortunately, without first directing the JV (joint venture) Smartmatic, respondent judge continued to act on the case by granting the assailed  injunctive relief. In doing so, respondent judge gravely abused [his] discretion. Also, considering that the court has not acquired jurisdiction over JV Smartmatic, the order and TRO issued pursuant  thereto are void,” the decision stated.

The appellate court also said that t since AMMC was “merely a prospective bidder”  and does not claim to be a losing or failed bidder because it failed  to submit a proposal on time, it has “no personality to challenge the  decision.”

The  CA  held that there is no showing of urgent and paramount  necessity to prevent serious damage on the part of AMMC to justify the  issuance of TRO.

Topics: Court of Appeals , Smartmatic-TIM Corp. , vote-counting machines
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