MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has finalized around two dozen major contracts in connection with the automated elections on May 9, 2022, and one runaway winner has emerged: technology firm Smartmatic.
Data from the Comelec’s procurement monitoring report for the second half of 2021, as well as contracts posted on the Comelec’s website, showed that the Philippines’ major automated election provider since 2010 bagged five contracts totaling over P3 billion.
Domestic forwarding company F2 Logistics, meanwhile, was a distant second, signing one consolidated contract amounting to over P500 million.
This means that contracts secured by the two companies had a combined amount of P3.655 billion, accounting for 61% of P.5973 billion, which is the total price of the 25 individual deals listed under the automated election system category in Comelec’s procurement monitoring report by end of 2021.
Listed below are the companies that inked the priciest contracts with the Comelec for the 2022 polls, based on Rappler’s review of documents available on the Comelec website.
(Take note that we excluded from the list the National Printing Office, a government printer tasked to print 67 million ballots. The contract said the Comelec shall pay the NPO an amount not exceeding P1.304 billion, the most expensive single contract for this year’s polls.)
1. Smartmatic (P3.119 billion)
Smartmatic got five contracts for the 2022 polls, four of which were ranked second to fifth most expensive, major thanks to its status as the Philippines’ automated poll provider since 2010.
The following deals are:
- Procurement of secure electronic transmission services – P1.057 billion
- Lease of 10,000 additional vote-counting machines (VCMs) – P863.971 million
- Refurbishment of 97,345 VCMs – P637.443 million
- Procurement of automated elections system (AES) software – P402.725 million
- Lease of 97,345 external batteries for the VCMs – P162.088 million
Since the Philippines shifted to automated polls in 2010, Smartmatic has secured the most number of Comelec contracts.
While the firm claims it is 100% privately owned and has no political ties, Smartmatic’s credibility took a hit following reports of alleged poll irregularities in past Philippine elections. These included a delayed transmission of election results to the transparency server, now infamously known as the seven-hour glitch, in 2019.
However, despite criticisms against Smartmatic, random manual audits of the 2016 and 2019 elections – where independent auditors manually tallied votes and compared the results with machine tallies – yielded an accuracy rate of over 99%.
2. F2 Logistics (P535.999 million)
The company at the center of a controversy over its supposed ties to a campaign financier of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 bagged one consolidated contract for the following:
- Deployment of election equipment and paraphernalia to North Luzon – P106 million
- Deployment of election equipment and paraphernalia to Metro Manila and South Luzon – P123 million
- Deployment of election equipment and paraphernalia to the Visayas – P120.999 million
- Deployment of election equipment and paraphernalia to Mindanao – P185.999 million
F2 Logistics is no stranger to election contracts, having bagged Comelec deals in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in 2018 and the midterm elections in 2019.
But when the company’s connection to Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy came to light, election watchdogs and some lawmakers sounded the alarm.
The Statement of Contributions and Expenditures submitted by Duterte to Comelec in 2016 listed Uy among his top campaign contributors, donating P30 million in cash to Duterte’s presidential bid.
The 2020 annual report of Chelsea Logistics, where Uy was listed as chairman, indicated that he was also the chairman of F2 Logistics.
Efren Uy, F2 Logistics Philippines’ founding chairman, gave P3.5 million to Duterte’s campaign. Dennis Uy’s wife Cherylyn, corporate treasurer of F2 Logistics as of December 2020, made a P1 million donation.
Despite the backlash, the Comelec had insisted there was no conflict of interest, and that Uy’s ties to Duterte were not a ground for cancellation of the contract.
In conducting the open competitive bidding procedures, the Comelec’s special bids and awards committee followed the 2016 revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act 9184, also known as the Government Procurement Reform Act.
F2 Logistics secured the contract because it submitted the lowest calculated bid, besting three other firms. It subsequently hurdled post-qualification, a process wherein the Comelec checks whether a company is compliant with eligibility, technical, and financial requirements.
3. Advance Computer Forms (P172.811 million)
For the 2022 elections, the Comelec has a new supplier of ballot papers and marking pens, after the poll body grappled with bleeding marking pens in 2019.
The company behind the defective materials, Triplex Enterprises, joined the open bidding again in August 2021 for the 2022 elections. Because it tendered the lowest calculated bid, Triplex underwent post-qualification. Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez confirmed on February 10 that it was post-disqualified, and the contract went to Advance Computer Forms.
The Valenzuela-based winner of the contract describes itself as an “industry leader in the business forms market” with a “solid history of delivering quality paper products to our customers.” The company was founded in 1993, according to its website.
It has received accreditation from the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the National Printing Office, the website added.
4. Forms International Enterprises Corporation (P149.209 million)
For a contract price of P149 million, printing company Forms International Enterprises Corporation was formally tasked by the Comelec to provide packaging materials for the official ballots.
The company, according to its website, was founded in 1992, and is currently based in Caloocan City.
In its website, it takes pride as a printing company that offers an extensive range of services, such as “computer forms, marketing collaterals, security prints, variable data prints, paper bags, POS rolls, tickets, standees, tarpaulins, van stickers, calendars, books, and more.”
5. Cofta Mouldings Corporation (P143.906 million)
After winning a P143-million contract, the 34-year-old plastic materials manufacturer Cofta Mouldings Corporation took charge in providing the Comelec with 48,782 ballot boxes for the 2022 elections.
Its website describes Cofta Mouldings as “one of the largest and most successful injection molding companies in the country.”
Rest of the list
Listed below are the companies that secured 2022 automated election contracts, as of the second half of 2021.
Many of these winning bidders have begun fulfilling their contract commitments for the May 9 elections, a high-stakes vote that will determine Duterte’s successor in Malacañang. – Rappler.com