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Comelec, bidder ink automation deal

Posted on: July 10, 2009

Comelec, bidder ink automation deal

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:59:00 07/10/2009

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

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Election (Comelec) finally inked on Friday the P7.2 billion automation contract with the winning bidder, signaling the start of the automation project for the upcoming 2010 elections.

Comelec chairman Jose Melo signed the contract with Juan Villa of Smartmatic Southeast Asian operations who was also representing Total Information Management (TIM), the other half of the joint venture.

The signing took place despite a petition filed by lawyer Harry Roque on Thursday afternoon against the implementation of the project.

“With the signing of the contract, Comelec will immediately issue the ‘notice to proceed’ to Smartmatic-TIM so they can start with the manufacture and customization of the poll machines,” said Melo.

Melo dismissed the grounds cited by Roque for filing the petition at the Supreme Court such as the bidder’s lack of papers and failure to meet requirements of the poll machine error rate.

Melo cited that multinational Smartmatic and local partner TIM submitted a joint venture agreement as part of its bid documents and secured its incorporation papers for joint venture and corporate registration from the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday – the final requirement before the bidder could sign the contract with Comelec.

Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) chairman Ferdinand Rafanan said Roque had mixed up his figures on the machine error rate of 0.0005 and the bidder’s rate of machine breakdown of two percent.

Rafanan said the SBAC technical committee tested the poll machines and found that it had 100 percent accuracy in reading ballot marks – surpassing the 99.9995 percent requirement of Comelec. This means that the equipment should not misread over two of the 20,000 ballot marks during the testing.

This would be critical because voters would only shade or mark ovals beside the candidate’s name to indicate a vote instead of writing names as done in manual voting, said Rafanan.

Melo allayed fears that the delayed contract signing would cut short the voters’ education and training of Comelec personnel on the use of the poll machines.

The first batch of the system will be shipped to the country on November in preparation for the mock elections, public demonstration and personnel training on operation of the machine from December onward.

“We are committed to deliver the machines on schedule and there is enough time based on our projection to manufacture the 82,200 PCOS machines,” said Smartmatic international sales director Cesar Flores.

Flores added that the Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday issued a confirmation that the Philippine embassy in Washington DC has consular jurisdiction over Barbados and thus, authenticated bid documents of multinational Smartmatic based in the region.

Flores said he was hoping this clarified allegations by Senator Francis Escudero who said the embassy in Caracas, Venezuela had jurisdiction over the firm.

The P7.2 billion contract provides for 82,200 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that would automate the counting of votes and transmission of consolidated voting results, paving way for the proclamation of winners 24 to 48 hours after the closing of polls.

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