AN election watchdog group on Friday raised the possibility of “no elections in 2016” after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) declared a bidding failure for the acquisition of P2.5 billion worth of counting machines
Nicanor Elman of the Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E) said the Comelec has disqualified the last two bidders —Smatmatic-TIM and Indra Sistemas S.A.—for “submitting non-responsive financial proposals.”
|“People have now begun asking whether there would even be an election in 2016 at all. And with all that is happening, we cannot fault them for thinking that way,” Elman said.
The Bids and Awards Committee of Comelec disqualified Smartmatic for putting a “dash” in some of the items in its proposal, which the committee interpreted as an incomplete bid. For its part, Indra Sistemas submitted a bid higher than the specified budget.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the bidding setback will not have serious impact in the preparation for next year’s polls.
Elman said he was surprised at the grounds for disqualification of Smartmatic, which managed to get out of trouble on more serious such as electoral fraud and faulty transmission.
“For all the issues thrown at Smartmatic over the years, they get disqualified because of a dash in the bid document,” he said.
C3E convenor Alain Pascua said he was also disturbed at Comelec’s failure to identify a more compelling reason to exclude Indra Sistemas from the bidding.
He said the Comelec ignored a blacklist complaint filed against Smartmatic for having no legal capacity to participate in the bidding because of its infirmed documentation at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Glaring is the hairline ground for which Smartmatic was disqualified even on the face of its blatant violations and more compelling grounds of ineligibility,” Pascua said.
“Smartmatic should have been disqualified much earlier when the bidding process started, and for even more glaring offences,” he said.