No conflict of interest in 2022 deal with F2 Logistics – Comelec

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) asserted on Tuesday, November 2, that there was no conflict of interest when it awarded the half-billion-peso contract on the deployment of 2022 election equipment to F2 Logistics, a company with ties to President Rodrigo Duterte's 2016 campaign donor, Dennis Uy.

In a television interview, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said poll officials looked into allegations of conflict of interest before F2 Logistics bagged the project.

"It was found that there really were no grounds to say there was a conflict of interest," Jimenez told ABS-CBN News Channel's Headstart.

"Why could it not be given to another bidder? Because our laws are very strict. You have a public bidding, you have rules you abide by, and when you have a lowest responsive bid, that's where you award it to," he added.

Poll watchdog Kontra Daya previously called on the election body to cancel its contract with F2 Logistics, saying "it's no longer an issue of legality, but propriety," amid fears of conflict of interest.

The contract, signed on October 29, came after the election body in August gave the green light to award the contract to F2 Logistics, which in July tendered the lowest calculated bid of P535.999 million ($10.625 million) for the P1.61 billion ($31.928 million) contract on the deployment of election equipment. It bested three other firms during the bidding process.

2020 annual report of Chelsea Logistics listed Uy as chairman of F2 Logistics. Uy, close ally of the President, donated P30 million ($593,000) to Duterte's 2016 Malacañang bid.

Efren Uy and Cherylyn Uy – ranking officials of F2 Logistics – also contributed to Duterte's 2016 presidential campaign.

Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas said in August, prior to approving the awarding of the contract to F2 Logistics, that Uy’s ties to Duterte were not a ground for the delivery firm to be disqualified from the bidding process.

“Many businessmen are big contributors to elections,” Abas had said.

Dousing fears of poll manipulation

As winning bidder, F2 Logistics is in charge of deploying to provinces the vote-counting machines (VCMs) and their external batteries, consolidation/canvassing system machines, transmission equipment, and generator sets, among others.

The firm will also transport official ballots and ballot boxes.

On Twitter, Jimenez also allayed fears that those in charge of the delivery of VCMs would affect the election results in any way.

He noted that VCMs generate a "zero-report" before voting starts to prove that there are no "preprogrammed results" in their memory.

"At no point is the logistics provider able to tamper with the election outcome, either because of process safeguards or the fact that the VCMs have practically nothing to do with the results once the results have been reported out," he tweeted on Tuesday.

Prior to the 2022 polls, F2 Logistics also secured crucial forwarding contracts in the 2018 Sangguniang Kabataan and barangay elections, and the 2019 midterm polls. – Rappler.com