THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has approved through a resolution conduct of simultaneous biddings for refurbishment of 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and for procurement with option to purchase of more than 100,000 Optical Mark Readers (OMRs).
The commission has allotted a total of P14.759 billion for the projects of which only one would be chosen for use in the 2016 local and national elections.
In a memorandum, dated April 28, 2015, the Comelec law department said there is no prohibition against the conduct of “parallel bidding” and “considering that time is of the essence due to the proximity of the May 9, 2016 National, Local and ARMM Regional Elections.”
ARMM stands for Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
For the purpose of the parallel bidding, the Comelec also resolved to approve creation of two separate Special Bids and Awards Committees and the designation of two additional members of the SBACs considering the technical expertise needed in the bidding process.
It also ruled to require, as additional bidding requirement, “an undertaking of the bidder that it has no right or cause of action to compel the BAC of this commission to award the contract to it, as it is the commission which has the authority to ascertain or decide what options to choose or award bearing in mind the course of action most advantageous to, and in the best interest of the government.”
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista on Tuesday said the poll body was not taking any chances to ensure that the 2016 presidential elections would be automated and would proceed as scheduled, thus the Comelec would conduct two simultaneous public biddings.
Bautista added that the commission en banc is looking to award the “notice to proceed” not later than end of July, which comes after the contract has been awarded and decision has been arrived at on which of the two options is more advantageous to the government.
The Comelec has decided to pursue a parallel bidding after the Supreme Court voided a P268-million “midnight contract” it awarded to technology provider Smartmatic Corp.
The negotiated contract was signed by Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. two days before his retirement last February 2.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said they had consulted stakeholders on how best to hold honest and credible elections next year.
Among those consulted, Jimenez added, were the Comelec Advisory Council, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and the group of former Commissioner Augusto Lagman to hear their proposals for a Transparent and Credible Election System or TCrES, a hybrid of manual voting and counting and automated transmission and canvassing.
“The Comelec remains open to suggestions and alternative proposals on how to make the automated election system more transparent and how it can be further improved,” Jimenez said.