Poll officials are getting “jittery’ over the successive disqualification of companies that bid for the automation of the May 2010 polls, as only one, out of the seven, remains in the running.
A poll commissioner, who refused to be identified, said a re-bid of the project might be an option if none of the bidders pass through the qualification round.
The special bids and awards committee (SBAC) of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), as of posting, had declared six consortiums ineligible to bid. They failed due to different reasons.
The latest casualties were Syrex Inc., and AMA Group of Companies/Election Systems and Software (ES&S).
Syrex, a Filipino firm, failed to submit its Securities and Exchange Commission registration, while Filipino firm AMA and its US partner ES&S failed to present an export and import license.
The SBAC also disqualified Total Information Management Corp and its partner, Netherlands-based Smartmatic, after the consortium failed to submit an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification.
Failure to submit an ISO certification also led to the ineligibility of the consortium Indra Sistemas S.A. Hart Intercivic, and Strategies Holdings Inc..
Also earlier disqualified were Avante International, and US-based Sequoia and its local partner Universal Storefront Services Inc..
Avante failed to submit proof it has implemented contracts worth half of the value of the P11.3 billion automation project, while Sequoia failed to submit an import license.
As of posting, the Comelec was examining for qualification Israeli-based Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd.. Its local partners are F.F. Cruz and Company Inc., and Filipinas Systems Inc.
Observers have noted the SBAC has been unusually thorough in examining the qualifications of the bidders, in stark contrast to the bidding done for the botched 2004 automated elections.
In the 2004 automation project, the Comelec awarded the contract to Megapacific, a consortium composed of suppliers to the Comelec. The Supreme Court, however, declared the contract null and void on the ground that it was tainted with anomaly.
The Comelec and Megapacific are still fighting in court over the botched project. Megapacific wants full payment while the Comelec is seeking a refund of the initial payment given to Megapacific.
Bound by rules
An SBAC “observer” said the Comelec is bound by the rules on procurement and the bid requirements that explain the rigid screening. The “observer” welcomed the transparent process of the bidding procedure.
The Comelec commissioner interviewed by abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak said “we are starting to get worried” that no bidder would qualify. Asked what options are on hand, the commissioner said a re-bidding could be conducted.
The poll official however said a re-bidding would depend on how much time is left for the Comelec to prepare for the first-ever nationwide automation. “We will see which of the schedules could be adjusted.”
He said “it is not yet [at a] critical point” where Comelec would have to decide whether automation will be abandoned, noting that the disqualified firms have three days to file a motion for reconsideration.
“It is not yet the end of it,” the commissioner said, referring to automation.