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.
Procurement of Secure Electronic Transmission Services (SETS)
As winning bidder, Smartmatic is required to provide service for “secure connectivity and transmission of election results” in 2022,” including the necessary hardware and equipment for the project.
Refurbishment of 97,345 vote-counting machines
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
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.”
Lease of external batteries for the VCMs
After bagging four contracts as of October 12, Smartmatic has secured P2.255 billion in deals with Comelec for the 2022 vote.
Transportation of election equipment, peripherals, forms, supplies and paraphernalia
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.
Packaging services for the official ballots
Supply and delivery of Consolidation and Canvassing System (CCS) laptops
Masangkay Computer Center also bagged a P989,340 contract for the supply and delivery of USB tokens in the 2022 elections.
AES certification services
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 No. 9369 or the poll automation law requires the help of an international certification entity in certifying that the AES system is operating accurately.
Supply and delivery of printers with toners
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
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.
Supply and delivery of 48,782 ballot boxes
Approved budget for the contract: P200.781 million
Which firm won the project: No final decision yet, but plastic manufacturer Cofta Mouldings Corporation underwent post-qualification on October 18 after tendering the lowest calculated bid of P143.9 million. It bested three other firms, including Smartmatic.
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.