Brillantes lays blame
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has no one to blame but itself for failing in its bid to refurbish the more than 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines for use in 2016, according to former Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Brillantes said that if the Comelec did not slash the project’s approved budget for the contract (ABC) from P2.88 billion to P2.074 billion, the bidding would have been successful.
“They created their own situation that forced them to agree to lease new machines,” said Brillantes.
“The ABC for the refurbishment was already good at P2.8 billion. But one week before the opening of the bids, they lowered it by P800 million,” he said.
The reduced budget compelled potential bidders, including technology provider Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM), to back out of the first round of bidding.
The commission then decided to raise the budget to P3.1 billion in the second round, which still failed after the lone bidder was found to be ineligible.
This prompted the Comelec to opt for the lease of more than 90,000 new optical mark readers.
Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, however, noted that “precious time” was put to waste when Brillantes entered into an extended warranty contract by way of direct contracting with Smartmatic-TIM for the refurbishment of the old PCOS machines early this year.
This did not sit well with Brillantes. “Don’t put the blame on the old Comelec because the subject in the Supreme Court was only the contract amounting to P300 million. Now, what they are talking about is billions,” he said.–Jocelyn R. Uy
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