Smartmatic protest still pending–Comelec
The protest filed by Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corp. is still pending before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) even as the poll body has already started the second round of bidding for the lease of new voting machines for the 2016 national elections.
“There remains the protest filed at the Comelec en banc concerning the first round of bidding for these voting machines,” said Thaddeus Hernan, chair of the Comelec-special bids and awards committee 1 (SBAC 1), during Thursday’s pre-bid conference for the lease of 23,000 optical mark reader (OMR).
It can be recalled that last May, the poll body’s bids and awards committee (BAC) disqualified Smartmatic-TIM during the post-qualification evaluation stage of the first round of bidding after the multinational company failed to submit valid articles of incorporation. Its demo unit also failed to meet the requirements of the project.
Subsequently, Smartmatic-TIM filed a protest before the Comelec en banc in the hope of reversing the BAC’s decision on the P2.5-billion project.
According to Hernan, a favorable ruling to the Smartmatic’s protest by the Comelec en banc would reverse its disqualification and there is a possibility that the second round of bidding would be canceled.
Nevertheless, Hernan expressed belief that such a scenario would not discourage prospective bidders for the second round of bidding.
“I don’t think so because this is a totally new bidding procedure. And just like in any business, these projects come with risks and the companies are aware of this,” he said.
In fact, he said, for the second round of bidding, there were two companies that already purchased the bidding documents. These companies are Sysco Paper Corp. and Miru Systems Co. Ltd.
As expected, Smartmatic-TIM did not purchase the bidding documents for the second round of bidding.
According to Hernan, the SBAC 1 is confident it will be able to meet the deadline set by the Comelec en banc for the former to give its recommendation by the middle of July.
The submission and opening of bids for the 23,000 OMR units is set on June 23.
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