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Comelec defers decision on automation bidders

Posted on: May 17, 2009

Comelec defers decision on automation bidders

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:16:00 05/16/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Computing & Information Technology, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 3) The Commission on Elections has deferred its decision to award the P11.2 billion poll automation contract to the lowest bidder pending the resolution of appeals on the issue, an official said.

The Comelec issued its directive late Saturday night even as the Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) decided to open the financial proposals of qualifying bidders Smartmatic International and Indra Sistemas.

But Comelec commissioner Ferdinand Rafanan, chairman of SBAC, said the poll body’s motion was without prejudice to the motion for reconsideration filed Avante International Consortium and AMA Group Holdings Consortium.

Bidders were being evaluated based on their eligibility, technical capacity, and financial proposal that should not exceed the total contract amount of P11,223,618,400, said Rafanan.

“The consortium of Indra Sistemas, Hart Intercivic and Strategic Alliance Holdings Inc. passed the technical bid evaluation. The SBAC will evaluate next the consortium of Smartmatic International and Total Information Management and the consortium of Giat Satellite Networks, FF Cruz and Co and Filipinas Systems,” he said.

“We will know soon which bidder has the lowest calculated responsive bid,” said Rafanan.

But Gilat failed to show three needed documents: backup plan, master plan for generation of machines, and written certificate from poll authorities of client country.

Smartmatic asked SBAC “how much time will you give Gilat to locate the documents.”

Gilat consortium includes FF Cuz, which was allegedly part of a YouTube scandal showing deal fixing of documents.

Still fighting to stay in the race, AMA Group Holdings and Election Systems and Software International – declared Friday by SBAC as lacking illegibility to bid – has filed a motion for reconsideration.

Edilberto Castaneda, lawyer of AMA consortium, urged the SBAC to tackle the motion for reconsideration in Saturday’s open session and to allow the opening of its technical proposal.

But SBAC denied AMA’s appeal, said Rafanan, citing Section 30.3 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9184 as basis for the ruling.

After announcing the lowest calculated bid, the SBAC would prepare for the technical demonstration and evaluation of poll machines on Tuesday.

“The technical working group [TWG] will prepare on Monday the ballots needed for the technical evaluation and guide the eligible bidders in the set up of machines, which will be evaluated on Tuesday,” said Rafanan.

To qualify in the technical evaluation, machines must pass 26 technical criteria set by Comelec, such as detection of fake ballots, scanning ballots once only, operation on alternative power sources such as battery for at least 12 hours and transmission of consolidated results to Comelec designated servers, said Rafanan.

“The bidder with lowest calculated bid will join the technical evaluation but we also invite other bidders to be found eligible to setup their machines, so if the first machines fail, the TWG will evaluate the machines of the bidder with the next lowest calculated bid,” said Rafanan.

Rafanan said the bidding was only delayed by seven days and hopefully, the implementation calendar would be back on schedule by June 1.

Rafanan saw no reason the automation project would be delayed by bidder protests because bidders have waived their right to file for injunction before the courts.

In case a bidder files a protest, it has to pay P112 million or at least one percent of the contract amount.

“I am optimistic we will have automated elections in 2010,” said Rafanan.

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