Comelec: Smartmatic won't have edge in bidding

by Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 04 2014 08:42 PM | Updated as of Nov 05 2014 04:42 AM

MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday said Smartmatic will not have an advantage in the bidding for the technology to be used for the 2016 automated elections.

This was the assurance to the public given by Helen Aguila-Flores, chairperson of the Comelec's Bids and Awards Committee.

This, despite allegations that the Comelec is favoring Smartmatic after Chairman Sixto Brillantes announced recently that they are studying the possibility of entering into a negotiated contract with Smartmatic on refurbishing old PCOS machines that will again be used for the upcoming national elections.

"We can give the 100 percent assurance that as far as procurement as any goods and services that we are mandated to procure, you can be sure that this committee will be fair to all prospective bidders," Flores said.

Flores, however, said they are not in the position to answer whether Comelec will push through with the negotiated contract or conduct a separate bidding for the service.

Several groups have called for the blacklisting of Smartmatic from the bidding process because of several violations, including defective machines and the lack of an ISO certification.

"This committee is not taking speculations into account. We can only be bound from orders from the procuring entity or maybe from the Supreme Court. Otherwise, kung sino ang pupunta dito para mag-bid we have to treat them equally," Flores said.

Smartmatic is among the five companies that expressed intent to participate in the two-stage competitive bidding for the lease of the
Election Management System and Precinct-Based Optical Mark Reader (OMR) or Optical (OP-SCAN) system for the 2016 elections.

The other companies are Indra Sistemas, E-Konek Pilipinas, Election Systems and Software, and Miru Systens Co, Ltd.

The P2.5-billion contract includes the provision of 23,000 units of voting machines, 16.5 million ballots, 20,406 ballot boxes, and 4,700 technicians for technical support.

Smartmatic will also participate in the bidding for the lease of the Election Management System and Precinct-Based Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) technology, along with E-Konek Pilipinas and Indra Sistemas, SA. The contract is worth P32.5 million.

Bidders participated in a pre-bid conference Tuesday wherein several issues were discussed, including eligibility requirements and minimum technical criteria and financial components of the contracts.

All bidders will have to undergo a two-stage competitive bidding for both contracts, compared to the 2010 bidding which only had one stage.

"Ang difference nun nung 2010 sa submission ng bids, deretso na yung evaluation ng lahat-lahat. Ito naman, sa first stage they will present an initial technical proposal muna. Titignan muna namin kung pasado sa initial requirements. There will be initial basic or minimum parameters kung saan titignan namin sila at pag pumasa sila doon papasok sila sa second stage. The Commission would like to be assured that companies who are participating are capable," Flores told the media.

The first stage of the bidding process is set to start on December 4, when bidders will be submitting their eligibility requirements and initial technical proposal.