ONLY technology provider Smartmatic Corp. has formally signified its interest to participate in the P10.747-billion parallel bidding called by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the supply and refurbishment of counting machines to be used in 2016.
Pre-bid conferences were held on Tuesday and Wednesday by the projects’ respective Special Bids and Awards Committees (SBACs).
The first project calls for the procurement with option to purchase of 80,000 new units of optical mark reader (OMR) machines worth P7.867 billion, while the other is a P2.88 billion contract for the refurbishment and upgrading of the existing 82,000 units of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.
In both instances, only Smartmatic paid a non-refundable fee of P75,000 each for the bidding documents. A representative of Smartmatic’s rival, Indra Sistemas S.A., was present in both instances.
But Comelec spokesman Director James Jimenez said other bidders have until June 29 and June 30 to submit their bid proposals for the OMR and PCOS projects, respectively.
During yesterday’s pre-bid conference, the SBAC announced that requests for clarifications on bidding rules and procedures should be submit on June 20 or 10 days before the deadline set for the submission and receipt of bids.
The Comelec said bids in excess of the approved budget shall be automatically rejected.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista earlier clarified that only one of the two projects will be pursued or used in the 2016 elections.
Bautista said the commission is looking to award the “notice to proceed” not later than end of July, which comes after the contract has been awarded and the poll body has decided which of the two options, OMR or PCOS, is more advantageous to the government.
The poll body decided to pursue a parallel bidding to make up for lost time brought about by a Supreme Court decision that voided the P268 million refurbishment contract earlier awarded to Smartmatic.
The negotiated contract was signed by former Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes two days before his retirement on February 2.
The PCOS machines were also supplied by Smarmatic, which critics and election watchdog groups called Comelec’s “favored bidder.”