Barely a month before the elections, another petition was filed against the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at the Supreme Court, this time concerning the contract for the establishment of the National Technical Support Center (NTSC) which was awarded to Smartmatic-TIM.
In a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, losing bidder Northern Worx KPO Inc., NextIX Inc., and Kit Properties Inc. joint venture asked the High Court to compel the Comelec to award the project to them because they submitted the lowest bid.
The NTSC is the unit mandated to render technical assistance to each component of the elections.
Named as respondents in the petition are the Comelec and the Joint Venture of Smartmatic TIM Corporation, Total Information Management Corporation, Smartmatic International Holtint BV, Jarltech International Inc and LRA Pacific Management Consulting Inc.
In a pre-bid conference on January 11, 2016, only two bidders participated — Northern Worx and Smartmatic-TIM.
The project has an approved budget of more than P122 million.
On January 25, 2016, the Comelec declared that Northern Worx submitted the lowest bid—P90.88 million against Smartmatic’s P122.71 million.
But the BAC, in a resolution dated February 15, 2016, disqualified Northern Worx on the ground that its net financial contracting capacity is not equal to the approved budget for the contract.
The joint venture questioned the Comelec’s decision.
“The petitioner has a clear and unmistakable right to be awarded as the bidder with the lowest calculated responsive bid, having complied with all the bidding and technical requirements provided for by the law and the terms of reference of the said bidding,” it maintained.
“[Smartmatic] is clearly not the lowest calculated responsible bidder as its posted bid price of P122.71 million is much higher than the bid price of Northern Worx Joint Venture, which submitted the lowest calculated bid with a bid of P90.88 million with a glaring difference of P31.82 million to the prejudice of both the petitioner and the government,” it said.