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Smartmatic protests disqualification to Comelec

MANILA, Philippines–Election technology provider Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. has filed a protest with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) seeking a reversal of its disqualification from the bidding for the lease of new voting machines for the 2016 elections.

The protest came after the Comelec bids and awards committee (BAC) denied the motion for reconsideration filed earlier by Smartmatic on its disqualification from the second stage of the bidding for both the direct recording electronic (DRE) and optical mark reader (OMR) machines.

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Even as it sought a reversal of its disqualification, Smartmatic on Friday asked the Comelec to blacklist its only rival in the bidding for the poll transmission services for allegedly making false statements and misrepresentations.

Smartmatic filed a petition in the poll body for the blacklisting and suspension for a year of Spanish company Indra Sistemas.

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The two companies are competing in bidding for the lease of 23,000 OMR machines to supplement the older precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the 2016 polls.

‘Non-responsive’ proposals

Both, however, were disqualified by the Comelec BAC on Feb. 25 after they submitted “non-responsive” financial proposals for the P2.5-billion lease project.

In its protest, Smartmatic asked the Comelec to overrule the BAC decision and declare it a qualified bidder for the lease of the two projects.

“Smartmatic respectfully prays that this honorable committee reverse respondent BAC’s resolution and declare the Smartmatic joint venture as qualified to participate in the second stage of the two-stage competitive bidding for the lease of the [OMR and DRE],” said Smartmatic.

The BAC disqualified the Venezuelan company after it submitted a bid that had several items or price offers left “blank” in the financial proposals.

In its protest, Smartmatic used the dissenting opinions of BAC members Divina Blas-Perez and Charlie Yap in the disqualification ruling.

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Dash means free

According to Smartmatic, Yap’s position should be reconsidered after Yap said that placing a “—” (dash) for an item should mean that it was being offered for free to the government.

The company said the opinion of Yap was consistent with the issuances of the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB).

“The BAC disqualifies a consultant if it provides for a required item but does not indicate a price for it and is thus deemed as non-compliant, except that if it specifies a ‘0’ (zero) or a ‘—’ (dash) for the said item, it would be deemed as having offered the item for free to the government,” Smartmatic quoted the GPPB as saying.

It also noted that Blas-Perez saw the “totality” of the bid of Smartmatic as the detailed costing of the items supposedly left “blank,” but which showed that “zeros” had been placed.

“Based on the financial proposal breakdown of each component, the respondent BAC can easily confirm the Smartmatic joint venture’s pricing, which is consistent with the overall summary,” Smartmatic said.

Last week, the BAC issued separate invitations to bid for the second round of bidding for the lease of 410 DRE units and 23,000 OMR machines.

Smartmatic is seeking the blacklisting of Indra so it would be disqualified from participating in any government procurement process.

“Indra’s statements and submissions are heavily laden with inexplicable discrepancies and inconsistencies, thereby casting serious doubts on its credibility. This is surely contrary to the self-evident purpose of a public bidding, which is to promote transparency and preclude suspicion of favoritism and anomalies in the execution of public contracts,” Smartmatic said in its petition.

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TAGS: Comelec, Elections, Philippines, protest, Smartmatic
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