Comelec challenge: Few bidders for automated polls

By Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 28 2015 08:31 PM | Updated as of Jul 29 2015 04:31 AM

MANILA - Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista said on Tuesday the poll body is faced with the challenge of encouraging more bidders for the automated elections.

Three bidders initially backed out from the first round of bidding to refurbish and upgrade 81,000 existing Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

At least one bidder, Smartmatic, said this was because the P2 billion budget for the contract was too low, rendering the project not feasible.

The poll body then jacked up the contract price to P3.13 billion to encourage more bidders.

Two bidders have so far bought the bid documents. Other bidders can still opt to join the bid before Saturday, August 1, when the financial bids are scheduled to be opened.

So far, no other bidder has shown interest. The Comelec has said that they are open to direct contracting should the second round of bidding fail but said they have to assess the situation.

'DI PATAS'

Meantime, former Comelec commissioner Gus Lagman said the Comelec miscalculated the costs for the operation of his proposed hybrid vote tally system PATAS.

Speaking in a regular meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines in Makati on Tuesday, Lagman said that contrary to the poll body's statement that costs would balloon to P36 billion, the government would only spend roughly P6 billion to operate the PATAS for the 2016 elections.

The Comelec had alleged that costs would rise because more boards of election inspectors would be utilized per precinct, plus the cost of machines and laptops.