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WINNING BIDDER SAYS ‘All set for 2010 poll automation’

Posted on: June 24, 2009

All set for 2010 poll automation

All set for 2010 poll automation

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 18:41:00 06/09/2009

Filed Under: Technology (general), Elections

MANILA, Philippines – After a month-long bidding, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has awarded the poll automation contract to its lone qualifying bidder, ensuring that that the 2010 elections will be computerized.

“After due deliberation, the Comelec resolves to approve report of Special Bids and Awards Committee confirming Total Information Management-Smartmatic as bidder with lowest calculated bid and award contract to them for the automation of elections on May 10, 2010,” Comelec chairman Jose Melo announced, quoting an en banc resolution.

“Upon SBAC’s recommendation, the bidder has the lowest calculated responsive bid after it passed the bid evaluation of its eligibility, technical and financial proposal of P7.2 billion and has complied with all 26 technical criteria during the evaluation and end-to-end demonstration of its poll machines,” Melo added.

SBAC is set to issue a notice of award to representatives of Smartmatic and TIM over a short ceremony on Wednesday morning, aside from sending the notice via fax, post and e-mail, said Melo.

After receiving the notice of award, the bidder must submit to Comelec a performance security or bond in the form of a manager’s check worth at least five percent of the total winning bid of Smartmatic-TIM or P360 million to ensure that the bidder will perform according to contract terms and provision of machines.

“Everything is now on line for the 2010 elections. We are all set and there will be no hindrance for the 2010 polls, let us hope and pray we will have peaceful elections then,” said Melo.

Melo added although he was at first doubting the lengthy day-to-day bidding last month, he said, “I realized it was for the better. Even with the one month delay, everything was transparent so walang naki-criticize [nothing will be criticized] – this is a shield against attacks on our automation project. We can also catch up with the timetable for the implementation calendar.”

Melo noted that aside from Commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Rene Sarmiento, and Armando Velasco who signed the resolution, Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer who was on business trip, issued a sworn statement that he fully approved SBAC’s recommendation to award the automation project to Smartmatic-TIM.

He added that even bypassed Commissioners Leonardo Leonida and Elias Yusoph concurred with resolution.

The Comelec is drafting the contract that will formalize the agreement between Comelec and the winning automation bidder, said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.

“The contract has been drawn up, we have a ‘padron’ or the template for the contract while it is being reviewed by our legal team. Before it is signed, it will pass another review to be done by retired Supreme Court Justices Vicente Mendoza and Hugo Guttierez – we want them who are known for integrity and meticulousness to peruse the contract before it was signed by the bidder and the Comelec as another precautionary measure,” said Jimenez.

Only temporary restraining orders (TROs) from third parties can prevent the promulgation of the contract, said Melo.

“TRO not from bidders but third parties – that is the more dangerous ones kasi yung kinakatakot namin is may mag challenge sa [we are afraid we will be challenged in the] Supreme Court based simply on their belief that the poll body is doing a wrong thing or that they know better than Comelec how to implement an automated election,” said Jimenez.

Transparency throughout the whole procurement process, especially the opening of eligibility, technical and financial bid proposals will help prevent legal challenges in court.

Melo also allayed fears by groups like the Philippine Computer Society, which expressed concern that Smartmatic might not give the source code that contained instructions to run the precinct count optical scan machines and its automated election system due to “intellectual property issues.”

Melo stressed in 2008 – when Smartmatic provided poll machines for the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao – that the firm gave its source code for configuration of the voting machines, which has remained with the Comelec until today.

The contract signing between Comelec’s poll chief and the bidder is set on Thursday. This will be followed a week after by the issuance of notice to proceed, which will authorize the winning bidder to start manufacturing and customizing poll machines and related equipment, said Melo.

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