Losing bidders protest ballot supply contract for 2013 pollsBy Gil Cabacungan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Two losing bidders—Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) and a consortium including a subsidiary of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT)—are protesting the National Printing Office’s (NPO) decision to award a P780-million contract to supply and print 55 million ballots for next year’s midterm elections to Holy Family Printing Corp. and its partner Canon Marketing Philippines.
But NPO acting Director Emmanuel Andaya shrugged off the protests of Smartmatic and the PLDT consortium as typical grumblings from losing bidders as he defended the winning bidders as a reputable group which won through a fair and fully transparent bidding process.
Cesar Flores, president of Smartmatic Philippines, and Carl Jon Mucho, lawyer of the PLDT consortium, have accused NPO of favoring Holy Family despite missing out on one of the crucial bidding requirements and flunking the mandatory tests for its sample ballots using the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that would be used in the 2013 polls.
Not for PCOS?
“I am worried about the coming elections because our PCOS machines might take all the blame for any failings by the ballot printer. Their sample ballots either got jammed or were not read by our machines and the bleeding of the ink on their paper is unacceptable, they were rejected by the machines,” Flores said in an interview.
Mucho accused the NPO’s bid and awards committee led by Sylvia Banda of “blatant abuse of power in favoring Holy Family” which he described as the NPO’s anointed one for having cornered lucrative printing contracts in the last three years from the Philippine Ports Authority, the barangay elections of 2010, and the Bureau of Internal Revenue, among others.
Mucho’s client includes ePDS, a PLDT subsidiary which handles the group’s printing requirements; Advance Group of Companies, one of the country’s largest paper supplier; Hewlett Packard which will supply the digital printers; and ASA Color Inks which will provide the ultraviolet (UV) inks for the ballots.
The bidding was originally held on Sept. 5 this year where all three bidders—Holy Family, Smartmatic and the PLDT consortium—were disqualified. The three bidders appealed and NPO scheduled the opening of bids on Sept. 12.
However, the NPO only opened the P780.7 million offer of Holy Family (the approved budget was P784 million) and disqualified Smartmatic for failing to meet the NPO’s requirement that all ventures should be in existence for at least six years and the PLDT consortium for its inability to submit a memorandum of agreement guaranteeing that its goods would be free from defects.
Both were also disqualified for failing to meet the single largest contract requirement (the state procurement rules require all bidders to have done a contract worth as much as 50 percent of the project they are bidding for) which in this case was pegged by NPO at P192 million.
Both Smartmatic and the PLDT consortium claimed that the rules were enforced unevenly as Holy Family lied about its single largest contract and that its sample ballots flunked the post-qualification testing.
In its presentation, Holy Family presented as compliance its contract with the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) to print seafarer’s identification and record books.
But Smartmatic and the PLDT consortium obtained a letter from the Marina deputy administrator for planning denying having any contract with the Holy Family or the NPO for P100 million in the last three years, saying that its printing requirements averaged only P30 million annually.