Comelec to bid out new contracts for repair, purchase of voting machines
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has announced it will conduct two public biddings for the refurbishment of the old precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and for the purchase of 77,000 new Optical Mark Reader (OMR) voting units.
“The commission en banc decided that we are going to go through two tracks, which will require both public bidding. One track is we will bid out for the refurbishing, upgrade of the existing PCOS machines. The other track we are looking at is purchasing new machines,” said newly appointed Comelec Chair Andres Bautista in a press briefing after his first commission en banc meeting.
Bautista vowed to hold consultations with other stakeholders regarding the automated election system while conducting parallel biddings for the two options being eyed by the poll body for the 2016 elections.
“Because of time constraints, we don’t want to lose options that’s why we’re pursuing parallel biddings. But we’re consulting with the Congress, with the executive branch, civil society groups, other stakeholders who are pushing for clean, honest and credible elections,” he said.
“We are open to other suggestions, to other opinions, but we want to emphasize that this is a time-bound exercise. May 9, 2016, we will have elections on that day, you can’t change that so we need to make a decision at some point. That’s why we are committed to increasing transparency,” Bautista added.
“It’s possible that both biddings will succeed, it’s possible both will fail, it’s possible one will succeed and one fails. After the result, we will assess and decide our next step. Hopefully, both will succeed then we can choose which is the better option,” he said.
Based on their agreed timeline, Bautista said they would start with both public biddings immediately.
He said they would decide which of the two options to take by July, or just weeks before they expect to award the contract to the winning bidder.
Bautista said such uncertainty would not discourage prospective bidders since they could participate in both biddings and would be informed of the limitations of the project.
“It will be up to them to take the risk,” said newly appointed Commissioner Rowena Guanzon.
Prior to the appointment of the new poll officials, the Comelec en banc decided to trim down their options to conduct public bidding either for the refurbishment of the 81,000 PCOS units or the purchase of additional new voting machines.
If the PCOS machines will be refurbished, it will be re-used in the 2016 polls and shall be supplemented by the new 23,000 OMR machines to be leased by the Comelec.
On the other hand, if the Comelec opts to buy 77,000 new machines, it would be combined with the 23,000 OMR machines and the contract for their lease has been bid out by the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).
Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim explained that they decided to bid out the refurbishment of PCOS because the poll body’s own Information Technology (IT) department could only perform diagnostics of the voting machines.
“We intend to bid not only the diagnostics but also the replacement of parts, batteries, rubber rollers as well as the upgrade of the functionality in the mother board. Hanggang diagnostics lang ang kaya ng Comelec IT department,” said Lim.
He added that the poll body had enough funds from their savings now reaching P14.5 billion.
Bautista said they would need P5 billion to P5.5 billion for the refurbishment of the PCOS machines and the lease of the 23,000 OMR units.
On the other hand, P12 to P13 billion would be needed if they buy 77,000 new OMR machines. SFM
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