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Comelec to hold new bidding for poll results transmission

MANILA, Philippines–The Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) bids and awards committee (BAC) is set to hold a second round of bidding for the award of the poll results transmission services for the 2016 elections.

In a resolution, the BAC on Thursday resolved to immediately conduct a mandatory review of the project and to proceed with the next cycle of competitive public bidding.

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Last Wednesday, the BAC declared a failure of the first competitive bidding for the award of the P558-million provision of electronic results transmission solutions, management and services.

The bidding failed because no bid proposal was tendered for the electronic results transmission project in time for the March 4 deadline. This was despite the purchase of bidding documents by Smartmatic–Total Information Management Corp. (Smartmatic-TIM) for a nonrefundable fee of P75,000.

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Under Republic Act No. 9184, or the Government Procurement Act, when there is a failure of bidding, the contract must be “re-advertised and re-bid” and opened anew to all interested parties.

Last Feb. 25, the poll body ruled out the participation of two technology providers in the bidding for the P2.5-billion contract for the lease of 23,000 new voting machines.

Smartmatic-TIM and Indra Sistemas S.A., the only bidders, were disqualified for failing to meet the requirements in the second-stage bidding for the lease of optical mark reader (OMR) machines, which will supplement the refurbished 80,000 precinct count optical scan machines (PCOS) in next year’s elections.

‘Nonresponsive’ proposals

Comelec-BAC chair Helen Flores said the two bidders were disqualified for submitting “nonresponsive” financial proposals.

In a statement, Cesar Flores, Smartmatic-TIM Corp. president for Asia Pacific, said the failure in the bidding for the OMR was instrumental in their decision not to submit a bid proposal for the electronic transmission services.

He explained that for them to come up with a proposal for the electronic transmission services, there has to be a final determination as to how many voting machines will be used in the 2016 polls.

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“In order for any bidder to come up with a reasonable offer for the transmission project, the number of additional machines to be used by Comelec first needs to be determined. Not having this figure on hand, we were not in a position to come up with a reasonable proposal for the transmission project,” Flores explained.

Meanwhile, the Comelec on Thursday sought to dispel fears that the poll body would revert to a manual system in the 2016 elections after the back-to-back failure of bidding for new counting machines and for the election results transmission services.

The poll body is “not considering” a return to the manual system in spite of setbacks in the preparations for automated polling, Comelec officials led by acting Chair Christian Lim told the suffrage committee of the House of Representatives.

The specter of manual counting appeared again at the resumption of the congressional hearing on the poll body’s preparations for next year’s elections after the Comelec admitted that there had to be changes in its election preparations schedule resulting because of the failed bidding.

Worst-case scenario

Describing the worst-case scenario, Lim said that if the Comelec fails to lease the 23,000 new machines, it will be forced to use only the existing PCOS machines.

Thus, each PCOS machine would have to service between 1,200 and 1,400 voters in each clustered precinct, at a great inconvenience to voters.

The Comelec hopes to reduce the ratio to one PCOS per 800 voters with the new machines.

In 2013, the ratio was one PCOS machine per 1,000 voters, according to Lim.

“We have to resolve all these pending issues to ensure that preparations go smoothly,” said committee chair Capiz Rep. Fredenil de Castro.

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TAGS: bidding, Comelec, Elections, poll results transmission, Smartmatic-TIM
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