MANILA, Philippines - The second bidding for the contract to refurbish 81,896 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines was declared a failure yesterday, just nine months before next year's national elections.
The Special Bids and Awards Committee-2 (SBAC-2) of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it had to declare the bidding a failure after two bidders backed out and a third was disqualified.
In yesterday’s opening of bids, Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corp. and Miru Systems Co. manifested their decision to withdraw, citing the tight timeline set by the Comelec for the P3.1-billion project.
This left the joint venture of Dermalog Identification Systems GmbH, Avante Technology and Stone of David Technical Equipment as the lone bidder for the project.
But voting 4-1, SBAC-2 declared the joint venture “ineligible” for failing to comply with four provisions in the technical and eligibility requirements.
“Premises considered, the SBAC-2 resolved, as it hereby resolves, to declare… a failure of bidding in this second competitive public bidding for the supply and delivery of the refurbishment (with systems upgrade) of the existing PCOS machines, its consumables and ballots for the May 9 national, local and ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) elections,” SBAC-2 said.
According to SBAC-2 chairman Jubil Surmieda, they made the decision without prejudice to the motion for reconsideration (MR) that the joint venture may file within three days.
“We leave that to the wisdom of the en banc to take the options. We cannot preempt the en banc,” Surmieda told reporters when asked about Comelec’s options in case Dermalog’s motion is rejected and its disqualification upheld.
In her dissent, SBAC-2 vice chairperson Maria Juana Valeza voted to declare the joint venture as eligible.
Valeza said that the document submitted by Dermalog on Net Financial Contracting Capacity “adequately showed the company’s financial capability” to undertake the project.
She also said the documents submitted by Dermalog on “Technical Specifications of the Bidding Document” and the “Sworn Bidder’s written proposal” were also compliant with technical requirements of the project.
Valeza called it “superfluous” to require Dermalog to submit actual sample ballots “considering that the bid documents only allow the submission of PCOS prototype and/or samples of the components or spare parts.”
Lack of time
In separate letters submitted to SBAC-2, Smartmatic-TIM and Miru cited the tight timeline imposed by the Comelec as the primary reason for their withdrawing from the project.
According to Miru, it was “constrained not to participate in the bidding because of lack of material time vis a vis the date of the opening of bids as one of its respective partners has recently backed out.”
For its part, Smartmatic-TIM, said the “biggest hurdle” to its joining the project is the “implementation schedule of the commission, considering the election day is barely nine months away.”
Smartmatic-TIM claimed that after consulting with its suppliers it was established that “at this point in time, Smartmatic has serious doubts and legitimate concerns whether this project is still feasible.”
“We have been trying to find ways to meet the providers’ schedule, considering such factors as the budget and scope of work,” Smartmatic-TIM sid.
“Unfortunately, the schedule requested by Comelec is no longer achievable due to the delays accumulated until this point in time,” it added.
It was Smartmatic-TIM that supplied the PCOS machines to the Comelec for the country’s first automated polls in 2010.
The project involves the refurbishment and systems upgrade of the PCOS machines and consumables as well as provision of ballots and modem, among others.
“The need to meet such schedule is too great for us, with a possibility of over committing bringing with it unthinkable repercussions for our company and for the country,” it said.
Smartmatic-TIM had already raised its concerns on the Comelec’s calendar in its July 6 letter to SBAC-2 during the first bidding for the project.
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