China may impose trade embargo against Philippines

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista said Wednesday the poll body has decided to transfer the manufacture of optical mark reader (OMR) machines from Suzhou, China to Taiwan “because of current conditions between the Philippine and China.” The poll body has decided to purchase 77,000 new optical mark reader (OMR) machines and lease of new 23,000 new OMR machines from Smartmatic for the 2016 elections.

Smartmatic project manager Marlon Garcia said that it was five percent more expensive for Smartmatic to transfer the manufacturing of voting machines to Taiwan.

“It was going to be more expensive for us, and we absorbed the cost for that, in order to increase the comfort of the commission on the manufacturing of the machines,” Garcia noted.

He, however, said that the Smartmatic “cannot blame the commission,” for its decision because of the sudden turn of events. Last August, the Comelec announced that the voting machines would be made in Suzhou, China.

During the hearing of House committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms on government preparation for the 2016 elections, Comelec Commissioner Robert Lim alleged that there might be an attempt by China to possibly “sabotage” the country’s 2016 presidential elections.

“We don’t want the complications. Another reason why we want all deliveries of machines by January, because we are anticipating the release of the arbitration decision that might affect the elections. So we don’t want that, we want to avoid the complications,” Lim said.

The Philippines expects the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal at The Hague, Netherlands to rule on territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea early next year.

“Once China decides to make a trade embargo there will be no trade, so any product made in China will not be coming in the Philippines. There’s a lot of possibilities,” Lim said.