Comelec eyes 1,000 BGAN units as back-up to transmit poll results
MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is planning to lease an additional 1,000 units of Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) or satellite internet network devices to be used in the May 9 elections.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said that the commission en banc has already approved, in a vote of 5-1-1, the lease of BGANs through direct contracting with Smartmatic International.
“About 1,000 units… that’s hundreds of millions,” said Guanzon, who was the lone dissenter in the decision of the commission en banc last Tuesday.
She said the decision to lease additional BGANs was prompted by the letter sent by Smartmatic regarding the need for additional units to be used for the transmission of voting results.
“They said that they can transmit faster if they have more (BGANs),” said Guanzon.
She, however, said that Smartmatic admitted that the elections would push through on May 9 even if the additional BGANs were not deployed.
“I asked them specifically if the election can push through without them. Smartmatic answered yes. Therefore, I think, it is unnecessary,” she said.
“For me, we should conduct public bidding. But we need at least 28 days to bid and deliver, right? So, it’s too late now,” she said.
Guanzon said Smartmatic also claimed to have exclusive rights to the supply of BGANs, which would make direct contracting legal.
This, she related, was questioned by Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim, who approved it with a condition.
“He (Lim) approved on the condition that Smartmatic can submit a notarized certification that it is an exclusive supplier of these BGANs,” said Guanzon.
Despite the approval, Guanzon said it was unclear, as of Thursday, whether the Comelec en banc would still proceed with the lease of BGANs.
“The act of purchasing is an executive function that is properly under the functions of the chairman,” she said.
Comelec Commissioner Sheriff Abas, on the other hand, said that they would need no less than three days to deploy the additional BGANs.
Comelec already has 4,500 BGAN units, which will be used as back-up to the 95,000 SIM cards, the primary tool to be used for transmission. SFM
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