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POLL AUTOMATION CONTRACT

Only 2 firms submit bid, Smartmatic questioned

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 08:05 AM December 06, 2014
comelec building

Comelec office. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Only Smartmatic-TIM Corp. and Indra Sistemas submitted bid proposals for the lease of 23,000 optical mark reader (OMR) machines to be used as supplement to the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the 2016 elections despite a total of five companies purchasing the bidding documents.

On Thursday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) accepted the eligibility requirements and initial technical proposals from the two companies.

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Smartmatic eligibility

Indra Sistemas, however, is questioning the eligibility of Smartmatic to join the bidding, saying the latter submitted infirm documents.

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The Comelec–BAC is scheduled to receive today the bid proposals for the direct-recording electronic (DRE).

A total of 410 units of DRE or the touch-screen system are being eyed for lease by the Comelec for the pilot testing of the technology also in May 2016.

BAC Chair Helen Aguila-Flores, however, said she could not say yet whether this will help accelerate their selection of the OMR supplier.

“We allocated two weeks for this. But since there are two of them, it might be cut short. It will depend on the processes they will demonstrate to us,” she said.

The bidding procedure for the 2016 AES involves the prospective bidders’ submission of eligibility requirements and initial technical proposals and the end-to-end demonstrations of the actual voting machines from casting of votes, canvassing up until transmission of generated election returns (ERs) to Comelec’s data servers.

A contract by Feb

The Comelec–BAC is eyeing the possibility of awarding the contracts to the suppliers of the new automated election system (AES) for the 2016 polls in February next year.

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“Hopefully, by February, we can already award the [contracts],” said Aguila-Flores, referring to the suppliers of the OMR and DRE.

In the bidding for the 2010 AES, the Comelec–BAC also conducted end-to-end demonstrations of the voting machines of the prospective bidders but not immediately after the submission of the bidding documents.

The Comelec earlier said that the testing of technologies is crucial for the poll body to decide on the most appropriate and cost-effective automated election system to use in the 2016 national and local elections.

In claiming that Smartmatic was not eligible to bid, Indra Sistemas said that Smartmatic submitted its Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration in 2009 as a joint venture that can only do business for the automation of the 2010 national and local elections.

“The 2009 joint venture (JV) between Smartmatic and TIM cannot anymore conduct business beyond the 2010 elections as stated in its submitted documents,” said Archibald Demata, counsel of Indra Sistemas S.A.

He pointed out that the stated primary purpose of the JV was for the automation of the 2010 national and local election.

“Smartmatic-TIM JV was formed specifically for the automation of the 2010 national and local elections and, clearly, it is not in any way eligible to participate in the bidding for the requirements of election in 2016,” Demata said.

Elementary lapses

Smartmatic should be declared ineligible to bid because of these unfortunate elementary legal lapses, he stressed.

“Even if it has already filed amendments to its primary purpose, the fact is as of December 4, 2014, the deadline for the submission of bids, the SEC has not approved any amendment changing the primary purpose of the JV,” Demata said.

Demata explained that the instant procurement was outside the powers of Smartmatic-TIM, the latter, a member of Smartmatic JV, is deemed to have submitted patently insufficient articles of incorporation—an eligibility requirement required under existing government procurement laws and bid bulletin no. 3.

“As a result, the first bid envelope of Smartmatic JV is patently insufficient and, therefore, incomplete. Smartmatic-TIM should be declared to have failed in its compliance with the eligibility requirements,” he said.

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TAGS: 2016 elections, Indra Sistemas, OMR machines, optical mark leader machines, PCOS machines, precinct count optical scan machines, Smartmatic, Smartmatic-TIM Corp.
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