A lawmaker on Wednesday said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has no legal basis to grant Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) the P300-million examination procedure of 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and the poll body should not proceed with it.
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd, chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms, noted that the decision of the poll body to allow Smartmatic to conduct the examination of the PCOS machines without a public bidding goes against the procurement law.
He also sees no reason why the Comelec, headed by Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., would resort to direct contracting when there is still plenty of time to conduct a public bidding before the national and local elections next year.
“It (direct contracting) does not level the playing field, saying all procurement modes must be exhausted and opened to ensure that the contract is compliant with Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel was referring to a resolution issued by the Comelec last year approving the extended warranty agreement with Smartmatic-TIM, allowing the PCOS vendor to carry out portion of the P1.2-billion PCOS repair program.
It involves the P300-million examination, diagnostics and minor repairs of the 82,000 PCOS machines in the inventory of the Comelec and which will be used in 2016.
Brillantes, in defending the decision of the poll body, said they decided not to conduct public bidding for the diagnostics because they believe that Smartmatic is in the best position to determine if there are glitches in the PCOS machines, being the supplier of the machines.
The Comelec chairman made it clear that the P300-million diagnostic is only a portion of the P1.2 billion refurbishment contract that is yet to be awarded.