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AMID BYPASSED SPECS Comelec set to award automation contract

Posted on: June 10, 2009

AMID BYPASSED SPECS Comelec set to award automation contract

AMID BYPASSED EXECS
Comelec set to award automation contract

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:16:00 06/09/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Technology (general), Government Contracts

MANILA, Philippines—Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose Melo said the poll body is set to issue resolution late Tuesday upholding the recommendation to award the poll automation contract to a complying bidder, even if the appointment of the commissioners were bypassed on June 5.

Comelec chairman Jose Melo said he anticipated that Commissioners Leonardo Leonida and Elias Yusoph would be bypassed when Congress adjourned on June 5.

Both are currently considered sitting members of Commission en banc, which means they have no functional powers.

They now require immediate reappointment from the Palace to gain back their ministerial duties, Melo explained.

“I have anticipated that Commissioners Leonida and Yusoph will be bypassed of their appointments but we have prepared for this. In fact, Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer cast an early vote, approving the recommendation of SBAC (Special Bids and Awards committee) to award the automation contract to Smartmatic-Total Information Management,” Melo said.

With the remaining five en banc members–including himself and Commissioners Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle, Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco–the poll body has enough numbers to sign the resolution upholding the SBAC recommendation.

In a separate interview, Tagle said “Melo wanted all seven members including Leonida and Yusoph but the bypassing have rendered them as observers presently, with no functional powers although they still hold office here.”

“We are all go for full automation because we have a quorum with the remaining five en banc but it would have been better if all seven of us could have signed the resolution upholding SBAC’s recommendation,” added Melo.

Melo said in an earlier report that the lone bidder Smartmatic-TIM is a “virtual winner” and that the en banc recommendation is “only for formalities” now that the poll body has started drafting the recommendation.

The bidder Smartmatic-TIM bidder consortium, which pegged its bid at P7.2 billion, has so far hurdled the poll body’s technical evaluation.

The winning bidder is required to provide 82,200 precinct count optical scan machines for 2010 poll automation.

Several bidding observers have endorsed the SBAC recommendation, namely Comelec Advisory Council, Transparency and Accountability Network, Parish pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and Office of the Ombudsman, according to Melo.

Once the en banc issues the resolution, SBAC will proceed with the issuance of notice of award, the contract signing between Comelec and bidder, issuance of performance bond of the bidder worth P700 million and, the issuance of notice to proceed signaling the start of manufacturing of the PCOS machines.

“If the resolution comes out today (Tuesday), the contract will be awarded by Thursday or early next week since Friday is a holiday,” said Melo.

Meanwhile, Melo also noted that the Comelec Advisory Council and the Philippine Computer Society had made endorsements with reservations due to the short-circuit incident with one of the bidder’s poll machines during a demonstration.

Melo said the short-circuit incident posed minimal concern.

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