TRACKER: Crucial Comelec contracts for the 2022 polls, and the winning bidders

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has been awarding contracts to companies for significant projects in relation to the 2022 elections, when voters will choose President Rodrigo Duterte's successor.

Some of the firms that bagged the contracts are being scrutinized due to their history or ties with Duterte, thus the concern by some sectors and watchdogs that the supplies and services they will provide might be used to favor the candidate that the outgoing president will endorse.

Below are some of the most crucial contracts for the 2022 national and local elections, and the companies that won them so far.

COMPLETED

Refurbishment of 97,345 vote-counting machines

Approved budget for the contract: P660.741 million
Which firm won the
project: Smartmatic, with a bid of P637.443 million

Smartmatic secured the deal in May after the poll body first declared a failure of bidding in December 2020.

During the second bidding in March 2021, it was Smartmatic's rival, PII-PSI JV, which first underwent post-qualification after tendering a bid lower than Smartmatic’s. However, the company’s incompatible sample SD cards during testing resulted in its post-disqualification.

PII-PSI JV filed a complaint accusing Comelec officials involved in the bidding of conspiring to commit irregularities. The poll body told lawmakers on September 15 that its protest had been junked.

Procurement of Automated Election System (AES) software

Approved budget for the contract: P452.522 million
Which firm won the
project: Smartmatic, with a bid of P402.725 million

The AES is "a system using appropriate technology which has been demonstrated in the voting, counting, consolidating, canvassing, and transmission of election results, and other electoral processes," according to the contract.

As Comelec's technology provider, Smartmatic is to ensure a fully operational integrated system and create a contingency plan for the AES "in case of system breakdown or any such eventuality which shall result in the delay, obstruction, or non-performance of the election process."

Transportation of election equipment, peripherals, forms, supplies and paraphernalia

Approved budget for the contract: P1.61 billion
Which firm won the
project: F2 Logistics, with a bid of P535.999 million

Comelec's decision to award the contract to F2 Logistics was controversial due to the firm's ties to Dennis Uy, one of Duterte's top campaign donors in 2016. Despite the controversy, poll body officials guaranteed no law was violated in awarding the contract to the 2022 election supplies forwarder.

Supply and delivery of printers with toners

Approved budget for the contract: P45.057 million
Which firm won the
project: Link Network Solutions, with a bid of P18.223 million

On its website, Link Network Solutions describes itself as a "Filipino-owned corporation" that supplies clientele needs for computers, printers, and scanners, among others.

Undergoing post-qualification process

Procurement of Secure Electronic Transmission Services (SETS)

Approved budget for the contract: P1.056 billion
Which firm won the project: No update in the Comelec website, but Smartmatic underwent
post-qualification after having a single calculated bid of P1.053 billion on July 13

Lease of external batteries for the VCMs

Approved budget for the contract: P162.129 million
Which firm won the project: No update in the Comelec website, but Smartmatic underwent
post-qualification after having a single calculated bid of P162.088 million on June 21.

If Smartmatic wins this project, as well as the SETS procurement, contracts won by the AES technology provider for the 2022 polls would accumulate to over P2.2 billion.

Supply and delivery of ballot papers, marking pens

Approved budget for the contract: P204.921 million
Which firm won the project: No update in the Comelec website, but Triplex Enterprises underwent
post-qualification after tendering the lowest calculated bid of P154.912 million on August 6

On its website, Triplex Enterprises describes itself as "among the top paper converters in the Philippines…with 45 years of paper trading and converting experience." It edged out Smartmatic and another company during the open bidding.

Packaging services for the official ballots

Approved budget for the contract: P150.245 million
Which firm won the project: No update on the Comelec website, but Forms International Corporation underwent
post-qualification after tendering a single calculated bid of P149.290 million in August

AES certification services

Approved budget for the contract: P55 million
Which firm won the project: No contract yet, but Pro V&V underwent post-qualification after tendering a single calculated bid of $1,091,928 or P54.566 million during a second round of bidding on September 20.

Pro V&V, an Alabama-based company founded in 2011, bagged the same contract in 2018 for the 2019 midterm polls. The company, according to its website, has a mission to "help its clients comply with regulations in systems and software testing in the most efficient and professional manner possible."

The firm first tried to secure the project during the first round of bidding in August, but the Comelec declared a failed bid after Pro V&V, the only company interested in the contract, failed to submit one necessary document.

Republic Act 9369 or the Poll Automation Law requires the help of an international certification entity in certifying that the AES system is operating accurately.

BIDDING STILL UNDERWAY

Supply and delivery of I-buttons for digital signature

Approved budget for the contract: P203.237 million

The Comelec's special bids and awards committee (SBAC) declared two failed competitive biddings for the project in June and July.

No company submitted a bidding proposal during the negotiated procurement on September 10, prompting the SBAC to refer the case to the project management office.

Lease of 10,000 VCMs with SD cards

Comelec declared a failed bid for the project on September 9. Smartmatic, the only firm to purchase bidding documents, did not submit a proposal to SBAC, saying the maximum budget for the contract was too cheap.

The lease contract is important because the Comelec needs more VCMs to raise the number of voting precincts. That, in turn, will reduce the number of voters assigned to each one of them, a crucial consideration amid the raging pandemic.

Supply and delivery of ballot boxes

Approved budget for the contract: P200.781 million

Supply and delivery of Consolidation and Canvassing System (CCS) laptops

Approved budget for the contract: P116.160 million

– Rappler.com