The Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has denied a petition of an election watchdog to blacklist Smartmatic Asia from participating in bidding that the poll body will conduct for procurement of additional 23,000 automated election systems (AESs) for the 2016 balloting.
In a resolution, the BAC said Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E) has “no legal personality” to initiate a blacklisting complaint against Smartmatic, a multinational company, as it is neither a bidder nor a duly authorized observer.
“The complainants are not duly authorized observers as far as this BAC is concerned,” the resolution stated.
BAC chief Helen Aguila-Flores on Thursday said the current committee is not an “authority or [a]power” to rule on the C3E complaint, which was filed before the old BAC.
The election watchdog’s grounds to blacklist the Smartmatic were the same ones raised during the 2009 bidding, she told a news conference.
The BAC said the C3E petition was filed prematurely as Smartmatic has not yet submitted its eligibility documents for the bidding process.
Flores said the watchdog can still appeal the ruling either before the Comelec en banc or the Supreme Court.
Smartmatic-Asia president Cesar Flores hailed the decision of the BAC, saying C3E’s petition to blacklist them was only “a publicity stunt.”
“It was to be expected. As mentioned before, this was nothing but a publicity stunt by groups who don’t want us to participate in the bidding. And, also, these were issues rehashed five years ago that were already answered by the Supreme Court on two occasions already. So I am very glad and I welcome this decision by the Comelec and this committee,” Flores said.
Also on Thursday, the BAC opened bid submission, with Smartmatic-TIM Corporation and Indra Sistemas meeting eligibility requirements and presenting initial technical proposals.
It said E-Konek Pilipinas Inc., Election Systems & Software and Miru Systems Co. Ltd. purchased bidding documents but failed to submit them.
Flores, meanwhile, expressed confidence that Smartmatic would be named as the Comelec’s service provider for the third straight Philippine elections.
“It’s really 50-50 right now. But we are very confident because we have very good proven technology and large track records worldwide. And I’m pretty sure we are going to pass the technical evaluation because we worked very hard for months to be able to improve our solutions and prove to Comelec that we comply with all the requirements,” he said.
The Comelec is looking to lease for P2.5 billion 23,000 Optical Mark Reader machines to be used as supplement to 80,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines that will be used again in the 2016 elections.
These PCOS machines were used in the 2010 and 2013 elections.