Comelec rigged CF card procurement, says bidder
MANILA – Disqualified bidder LDLA Marketing is accusing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) of rigging the procurement system to make sure that Smartmatic bagged a multi-million peso contract to supply compact flash (CF) cards for the mid-term election.
LDLA owner Lito Domantay faced media today with lawyer James Mangrobang after filing before the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari with prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining order on the CF cards contract.
Domantay said his company supplied 20,000 CF cards for Smartmatic in the 2010 elections, and that his P33.5 million bid was the lowest of the bidders for the CF cards contract in 2013.
Domantay said his bid was disqualified twice for flimsy reasons and he felt this may have been to allow a negotiated bidding with Smartmatic. He noted Smartmatic did not participate in the first bidding.
During the negotiations for the negotiated procurement option, LDLA submitted its bid while Smartmatic offered a contract for P50.9 million, way above the approved budget which is P46.6 million.
Tomanday said that under the rules, Smartmatic should have been disqualified for submitting a bid that exceeded the approved budget.
The opening of sealed bids on December 8 showed that LDLA's bid of P33.5 million was the lowest while SPH International submitted the second lowest bid of P45.2 million.
Smartmatic's bid of P50.9 million was not only the highest, it also exceeded the approved budget for contract of P46.584 by about P4.3 million.
Domantay said Comelec told Smartmatic to lower its price so they can get the contract.
On December 19, the Comelec special bids and awards committee asked Smartmatic to submit a lower bid for the CF Card-Main in order to meet the approved budget for contract. Smartmatic then lowered its bid to P45.2 million, still higher than LDLA's bid but within Comelec's approved budget for contract.
Domantay refuted claims that their CF cards were hard to use and could not be easily ejected from the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. He said LDLA Marketing should have not been disqualified.
"If our CF Cards-Main were defective, they would not have invited us to submit our sealed bid in the first place," he said.
"Moreover, the CF Cards-main of LDLA have already been tested twice by the TWG and, on both occasions, they met the technical requirements. These were also the same cards previously supplied by LDLA to Smartmatic during the 2010 national elections," he added.
Domantay was disqualified in the first bidding over the alleged failure to notarize its list of projects. The company was disqualified in the 2nd bidding over the lack of enough cash assets.
"Ayoko nang lokohan. We won the bid fair and square,” he said.
For his part, Mangrobang said the CF cards were not proprietary on the part of Smartmatic since the Comelec already purchased the automated election system from them
"Nabili na ng Comelec ang PCOS machines. Kasama na dun software,” he said.
Chairman Sixto Brillantes feels the group is just engaged in dramatics because nothing is happening to their petition before the High Court. He noted that the High Court has not even asked the poll body to respond to the petition.
"Una kong sagot diyan, may petition sila sa SC. They have no reason to be holding a press conference, discussing what they filed sa SC. Gumagawa sila ng drama by violating the subjudice rule. Siguro alam nila walang mangyayari sa SC,” he said.
Brillantes said LDLA did not exhaust all administrative remedies. He said he doubts if the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the case since it's an administrative matter.
"This is an administrative process. They could have gone to a regular trial court,” he said.
The Comelec chief said the poll body followed prescribed procurement procedures but noted that once they went into negotiated procurement, the rules of bidding do not apply.
He added that in a negotiated procurement, the Comelec can negotiate with the bidder of its choice.
Brillantes also revealed that Smartmatic did not actually use the CF cards it purchased from LDLA in 2010. "Pangit yun,” he said.
He also said LDLA offered 2GB CF cards compared to Smartmatic's 4GB.