Comelec steers clear of bidders’ row over printing
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections on Friday distanced itself from the brewing dispute between the National Printing Office and Smartmatic-TIM, a losing bidder for the P780-million contract to print 55 million ballots for the 2013 midterm elections.
In an interview with reporters Friday, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the election body did not see the need to step in, stressing that interventions as extreme as taking over the printing of the ballots from the NPO based on allegations would be “unfair.”
“We will let them (NPO) do their thing and if something happens along the way that necessitates the Comelec to intervene, then we will intervene,” Jimenez said.
Smartmatic-TIM and a consortium that included a subsidiary of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company were disqualified bidders for the printing of the ballots for next year’s elections.
The NPO awarded the contract to Holy Family Printing Corp. allegedly despite failing to meet one of the crucial bidding requirements and flunking the initial tests using the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.
Jimenez said it was too early for the Comelec to assume that something was amiss. “We’ll see what turns out. This is not yet critical for the Comelec in terms of our timeline,” said the Comelec spokesperson.
“We have time to handle this probably without being spooked by allegations,” he added.
He also assured the public that the Comelec was being apprised of the situation at the NPO and that it was ready to intervene if the process of the ballot printing proved to be “shady or shaky.”
“Ultimately, we are responsible for the ballots,” he said. “We still need to find out if the NPO made the right decision and again, if the situation warrants it, I’m sure the Comelec will not hesitate to intervene.”