2013 poll automation more expensive: Comelec

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 21 2012 03:10 PM | Updated as of Nov 22 2012 02:11 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes said on Wednesday that the automation of the 2013 elections will be more expensive than in 2010, an issue that will be probed further in future Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) hearings.

JCOC Senate panel chair Alan Peter Cayetano believes that the polls became more expensive because of the unbundling of services and requirements which were bidded out separately.

Brillantes said the Comelec only complied with the requirement of the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC).

CAC member Bettina Quimson, however, pointed out that they only recommended the unbundling for the transmission and ballot printing requirements.

Quimson added that the CAC also recommended a separate bidding for systems integrator which shall not allow the supplier of the hardware to participate to maintain checks and balance.

Meantime, JCOC members grilled National Printing Office (NPO) Bids and Awards Committee chair Sylvia Banda over the qualification of Holy Family-Cannon joint venture to bid for the ballot printing contract.

Banda confirmed to the JCOC that the BAC only allowed accredited printers of the NPO to join the bidding, saying the Comelec didn't allow them to entertain outside bidders.

Cayetano, however, said that having accredited bidders is the biggest loophole to procurement laws since it allows offices to say that their bidding procedures are open but in reality, it is open only to accredited contractors.

The Comelec belied Banda's claims, saying it was the NPO who requested the poll body to allow them to bid out the ballot printing contract.

Lawmakers are wary that extra ballots maybe sold parties out to rig the elections.

The JCOC will form a technical working group to thresh out the issues the JCOC will tackle relative to the 2013 elections.