MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) bids and awards committee (BAC) has denied the petition of poll watchdogs to blacklist technology provider Smartmatic from the public bidding for additional voting machines for the 2016 elections.
In its Resolution No. 1 dated December 3, the Comelec-BAC denied due course to the complaints of 9 groups to ban Smartmatic, saying that they are not duly authorized observers and have no legal personality to initiate blacklisting.
Among the complainants is the Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E), which alleged that Smartmatic committed misrepresentation of certain information in its qualification statements. (READ: Poll watchdog to Comelec: Blacklist Smartmatic)
The BAC also ruled that the complaint is premature, because Smartmatic has yet to submit eligibility documents at the time of the issuance of the resolution.
Pre-qualification prior to the actual checking of a bidder’s eligibility is also proscribed or not allowed as per Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, said the resolution.
In addition, the BAC’s authority to blacklist a bidder is applicable only to the bidding processes for Comelec’s electoral activities this year and for the 2016 polls.
The bids body said that the grounds cited by the complainants “pertain to the 2009 procurement process” undertaken by the 2009 Special Bids and Awards Committee.
That year, Smartmatic was awarded the contract to lease around 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines for the 2010 automated elections. The Comelec then purchased the PCOS machines in 2012.
Smartmatic Asia Pacific president Cesar Flores welcomed the decision, saying that it was to be expected.
“[The complainants] didn’t even take it seriously. They were not qualified to file the petition, they didn’t follow the legal procedures,” Flores said.
He added, “More importantly, as I’ve mentioned before, these are issues rehashed from 5 and a half years ago that were answered by the Supreme Court on two occasions.”
On Thursday, December 4, the Comelec-BAC started opening eligibility requirements and initial technical proposals, including that of Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corporation (Smartmatic-TIM), for 23,000 additional optical mark reader (OMR) voting machines for the 2016 elections. – Rappler.com
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