The official organization of Philippine lawyers has requested the Supreme Court (SC) to stop a P268.8-million ($6.08-million) deal to repair, refurbish, and maintain voting machines for the 2016 elections. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) recently petitioned the SC to declare the deal between the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and technology provider Smartmatic-TIM illegal. The IBP explained that the Comelec awarded the P268.8-million contract to Smartmatic without public bidding. In a 28-page petition, the IBP said Comelec Resolution 9922, which mandated the contract, is null and void. According to the petition, the contract violates Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to open later this month the second stage of the public bidding for additional voting machines for the 2016 national and local elections. Based on the notice issued by the Comelec-Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), the remaining eligible bidders both for the Optical Mark Reader (OMR) and Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) projects may submit their final technical proposals and their financial proposals on Feb. 25 at 9 a.m. Both Smartmatic-TIM and Indra Sistemas S.A. are still in the running for the OMR project after the first stage of the bidding while Venezuela-based firm is the lone eligible bidder for the DRE contract.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has finalized the contract with technology provider Smartmatic for the diagnostics of the voting machines to be reused in the 2016 national elections. On Monday, February 2, his last day with the poll body, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr announced that he signed the contract on Friday despite the criticisms and attacks against it. Brillantes said the contract price has been lowered to P240 million from P300 million. The poll body was also able to negotiate an expanded scope of work to be done on the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. “It will not cover only diagnostics. It will not cover only minor repairs, but it will also cover all forms of repairs. It will also involve replacement of destroyed machines, which was not in the original proposal of Smartmatic,” he said. Due to this, Smartmatic’s proposed second stage worth P900 million may not push through anymore given the new scope of work, Brillantes added. He also said Smartmatic is preparing to start on the diagnostics this week.
The Senate will ask the Commission on Elections to explain its negotiated contract with Smartmatic over the refurbishment of Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS machines, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said Thursday. He said the Senate Oversight committee on electoral reforms will summon Comelec officials during a Senate inquiry on the “repair contract” next month. He gave no dates for the hearing but said Comelec officials should explain its contract with Smartmatic. “They should explain to the public why they entered that negotiated contract with Smartmatic,” said Pimentel who heads the Senate electoral reforms committee.
Voting 5-2, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has decided to tap Smartmatic Total Information Management Corp. to refurbish the 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the May 2016 presidential polls. With this development, the poll body will no longer bid out a contract for the repair of the voting machines. “The Comelec en banc has opted to give the project to Smartmatic, with 5-2 votes before the Christmas break. So there will no longer be a public bidding on this,” a Comelec source said over the weekend. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes along with Commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph, Christian Robert Lim and Al Parreño voted to extend the warranty of the PCOS machines with Smartmatic. Those who opposed the proposal were Commissioners Luie Guia and Arthur Lim.
The joint venture led by Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corporation was the only bidder that passed the first stage of the bidding for the lease of touchscreen voting machines for the 2016 national elections. On Tuesday, December 16, the bids and awards committee (BAC) of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) voted 3-2 to declare the Smartmatic-TIM joint venture eligible to proceed to the second stage of the bidding process. Bids committee chairperson Helen Aguila-Flores, vice chairperson Jubil Surmeida, and member Divina Blas-Perez voted for Smartmatic-TIM’s eligibility, while members Charlie Yap and Maria Juana Valeza deemed Smartmatic-TIM as ineligible.
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Monday that it has approved the pilot-testing of touchscreen and Internet voting sytems in Pateros, Metro Manila, and select sea-based Filipinos during the 2016 elections. Both Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes and the Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting head, Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, disclosed during separate interviews that the poll body has already issued a resolution formalizing the commissioners’ consensus to test the touchscreen and Internet voting systems. “We have already issued a resolution, which is to use all the 410 Direct Recording Electronic [DRE] units in Pateros since it fits the requirements of pilot-testing,” Brillantes said. Meanwhile, Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. has to overcome yet another legal challenge in order to advance to the next stage of the bidding for additional voting machines for use in the 2016 national elections. This after the bids and awards committee of the Commission on Elections was asked to exclude the Venezuelan firm from the proceedings on grounds of eligibility.
Smartmatic International has maintained that it has exclusive rights over the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, which gives it sole authority to refurbish the equipment for the 2016 presidential balloting. Cesar Flores, the Venezuelan firm’s president for Asia, said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should award the contract to repair and upgrade 80,000 PCOS machines to Smartmatic as it owned the rights to its parts. “If you open this to other bidders, the other bidders will try to [get into the] parts, which they cannot [do so] because we have exclusivity on those parts,” Flores told reporters in a recent interview. He added that the Comelec would benefit a lot if it would forgo its plan to bid out the project and award it instead to Smartmatic as the former wouldn’t have to seek a recertification if new software were needed for some of its parts.
The Commission on Elections, through the promulgation of Resolution No. 9903, approved the piloting of the iRehistro Project (internet registration) for overseas voter registration, the Department of Foreign Affairs – Overseas Voting Secretariat (DFA-OVS) announced on Friday, October 17. DFA said the pilot project will be implemented by the Philippine Embassy in Madrid, Spain (Madrid PE), beginning the first week November 2014 for a period of one month, to cover both sea-based and land-based registrants. Within thirty days of its initial implementation, Madrid PE shall submit its report and recommendation on the viability to continue the implementation of the project. If the pilot IRehistro Project is found to be viable, other Philippine foreign service posts may then request for inclusion in the project.
The call of a non-government organization to junk the reuse of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in the May 2016 polls was rejected by the Comission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said they cannot junk the PCOS machines because they were not given enough budget allocation for a new automated election system (AES). “We don’t have money for that,” he said in an interview. Earlier, Government Watch urged the Comelec to use a new AES in the next polls instead of reusing the PCOS machines citing alleged cases of discrepancies between the results of physical count of ballots and the voting machines as reason.