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Poll watchdog closely guarding bidding

Posted on: May 18, 2009

Poll watchdog closely guarding bidding

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 14:39:00 05/18/2009

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, State Budget & Taxes

MANILA, Philippines – A watchdog group has vowed to monitor the bidding for the P11.2-billion election automation project with “extra vigilance” to prevent a repeat of the botched automation in 2004.

The Comelec’s Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) is considering two bidders for the project, the Smartmatic-TIM consortium and the Indra Sistemas-SAHI-Hart Intercivic consortium.

“This is a new system altogether. There must be extra vigilance. We will watch every step of the way,” Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) chairperson Henrietta de Villa told reporters.

The PPCRV is an observer of the bidding. It is also the Comelec-accredited citizen’s arm for the May 2010 elections.

“We came from the Mega Pacific backlash in 2004 so dapat walang duda sa proseso [there should be no doubt in the process]… We have to guard that this project,” she said.

De Villa was referring to the alleged anomalous contract between the Comelec and the Mega Pacific Consortium for the purchase of counting machines for the 2004 elections.

The Supreme Court voided the contract and the machines were never used.

On Saturday night, the SBAC opened the proposals of Smartmatic-TIM, which was worth P7,191,484,739.48, and of Indra Sistemas-SAHI-Hart Intercivic, which was worth P11,223,307,799.

Smartmatic and local partner TIM pegged its financial bid for the automation contract at P7,191,484,739.48—about P4 billion below than the total contract amount.

The P11,223,618,400 contract amount that is up for bids, according to the SBAC, includes: P10.923 billion for the automated election system, including the lease amount for 80,000 precinct count optical scan machines (P8.22 billion), canvassing units (P140 million) and related services (P1.563); P200 million for transmission costs; and P100 million for project management costs.

De Villa said the SBAC was set to decide later Monday whether or not to reconsider the bids of two other consortiums, Giant Satellite Networks and AMA Group Holdings.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said he was “hopeful” that there would be no second bidding.

“At this point in time, it is hard to say that there will be a failed bidding because the SBAC has opened the financial bids that appear to be underbids or below the total contract amount. The make or break for them is the technical demonstration,” he said.

After the evaluation of financial proposals, there will be a technical demonstration and evaluation of machines tentatively set on Tuesday to check if the system complies with the minimum operating requirements, said SBAC chairman Ferdinand Rafanan.

The Comelec aims to award the contract by the end of May, Rafanan said.

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