PCOS repair bid declared a failure


With all bidders backing out of the project because of low budget allocation, the special bids and awards committee of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday declared a failure of bidding for the contract to refurbish 81,000 vote-counting machines for next year’s elections.

The bids committee, headed by Jubil Surmieda, came up with the decision to declare a failure of bidding after two of the three supposed bidders, Smartmatic-Total Information Management and Vertex Business Application, withdrew from the proceedings, while the third one, Indra Sistemas, did not show up.

“Two companies showed up and one of them is Smartmatic and they said that the ABC [approved budget for the contract]is not realistic,” Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said.

The Comelec en banc decided to slash the P2.88-billion contract budget to P2.07 billion only last week. No official could explain why the budget was cut.

Vertex had requested extension of time to submit additional questions and clarifications but it was denied.

Smartmatic president Cesar Flores said that with the budget reduction, the PCOS refurbishment project is no longer viable.

Flores explained that the refurbishing and upgrading process consists of taking all machines to the original manufacturing facility and proceeding with opening all units, replacing all necessary parts for refurbishment, placing all the new boards and repairing all the other parts necessary.

At the end of the process, he pointed out, all upgraded PCOS will be on the same level of performance required of the new PCOS in the others bids and will have a new warranty from the manufacturer.

“In all our years participating in government bids across the world, this is the first time that we have encountered a situation where a public bid of this magnitude finds its funds cut in such a considerable manner, only a few days before the submission of the bid proposal,” Smartmatic representative Filipinas Ordono said in a letter to the bids committee.

“It is with no small amount of regret that we inform the committee that Smartmatic TIM Corp. has decided not to participate in this tender. We hope the commission will consider this humble appeal and will revisit the reduced budget and adjust it accordingly,” he added.

Sources of The Manila Times hinted that the budget reduction was a calculated move to discourage the other bidders from pursuing the project in order to pave the way for procurement of brand-new voting machines, a variant of the controversial PCOS machines.

Bautista said the Comelec will decide on its next move next week.

“The question is how long does it take to have another public bidding? Those are the issues we are studying,” he added.

Last April, the Supreme Court (SC) voided an agreement between Comelec and Smartmatic for the P300-million diagnostics and repair of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines that will be used in the 2016 elections.

The SC said the Comelec “failed to justify its resort to direct contracting.”

Smartmatic was Comelec’s supplier of PCOS machines in the 2010 and 2013 elections.

Since the next elections are only less than a year away, Comelec said it is looking at two options–adjusting the ABC and going for “hybrid” polls.

“Bidding is a very long process… we don’t want to waste time while we’re evaluating the hybrid election system…,” Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim said.

Dasmariñas City (Cavite) Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., vice chairman of the House Committee on Good Government and Accountability, noted that the Comelec’s decision to cut the budget for the PCOS machine refurbishment was a signal that it is bent on adopting a hybrid polling system.



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  1. jesus nazario on

    “Sources of The Manila Times hinted that the budget reduction was a calculated move to discourage the other bidders from pursuing the project in order to pave the way for procurement of brand-new voting machines, a variant of the controversial PCOS machines.”

    Bingo ! You got it ! First the supplier signed a midnight deal negotiated contract for the work with xChairman Brillantes for some PHP 269 million which was struck down by the SC. Then there was this rebidding where the ABC soared to PHP 2.88 billion. This was reduced by some 800 million or so. Ayaw pa rin ng supplier when the new ABC is almost eight (8) times the original 269 million. The logic of the ABC here does not “compute.” They want the PHP 2.88 billion ABC which is a scandalous 11 times (almost) of the original ABC of PHP 269 million.

    Bottomline, this is an obvious STING na naman ! Yes, to pave the way to put the 82,000 used units in the garbage heap and buy some 100,000 new ones where the cost is another scandalous 10+ billion yet they are saying that this lease cost is just 50% of the purchase cost. Ano ? The purchase cost is 20 billion ? What are these defective contraptions made of ? Gold ? Platinum ? Diamond ? Hindi lang sting ito ! Pangloloob na ito ng kaban ng bayan !

  2. jesus nazario on

    Is a budget of 30% of the original cost for maintenance of a machine an accepted industry practice ? The machine is an electro-mechanical contraption just like a xerox machine, a laser or ink-jet printer, a typical off-the-shelf scanning machine, a 3-in-1 printer/copier/document scanner or 4-in-1 if we add the walang-kamatayang fax capability. Or is the supplier of this voting contraption just hostaging (read: milking) the customer (Comelec) to repair the machine at the cost it desires ? Does the customer has no other legally allowed recourse to protect itself in this kind of situation ? The machine has just been used in 2 elections and it already needs a major overhaul ? Was the required MTBF (mean time between failures) even met by these machines ? The industry practice annual cost of maintenance in fact is about 5 to 10% of the original purchase cost machine.