Two bidders have officially signified their intention to participate in the second round of biddings called by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for its P3.13-billion refurbishment and upgrading of 81,986 existing Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.
During Monday’s pre-bid conference, lawyer Jubil Surmieda, chairman, Special Bids and Awards Committee 2 (SBAC 2), named the technology providers as Smartmatic Corp. and Miru System.
Representatives of the two firms manifested before the SBAC 2 that they could accomplish the project within four to five months, or two to three months behind the two months stipulated in the terms of reference of the bidding process.
The Technical Working Group warned that the second round of biddings may result in another failure if the existing implementation calendar is not adjusted.
Representatives of Smartmatic and Miru relayed to the SBAC 2 that they were both considering filing a request for the adjustment of the timeline.
Other interested bidders have until August 1 to submit their bids, which will be opened also on the same date.
Last June 30, the SBAC 2 declared a failure of bidding for the PCOS project for lack of interested bidders and because of an en banc decision that slashed the original P2.88- billion approved budget contract (ABC) by 27 percent to P2.074,088,878.92 or a difference of P805,911,121.08.
During the first round, two of the three supposed bidders, Smartmatic Corp. and Vertex Business Application, withdrew from the proceedings, while the third one, Indra Sistemas S.A. did not show up.
Because of the failed bidding, the Comelec decided to change again the ABC to P3.130 billion from P2.074 billion.
The new ABC is also much higher than the original one of P2.88 billion.
The Comelec explained that the increase in the ABC was necessitated by a market survey conducted by the SBAC 2 but it was silent on why they slashed the original ABC during the first round of biddings.
According to Senior Commissioner Christian Lim, the supply of new machine modems plus the technical services also contributed to the decision of the en banc to increase the ABC.
Base on the new ABC, the cost per unit of a refurbished PCOS is P23,574.05 as compared to the P56,303 per unit of brand-new Optical Mark Readers (OMRs).
At present, the Comelec is left with only two options–the use of 23,000 new OMRs plus the 81,896 refurbished PCOS, while option two is 23,000 OMRs plus another 70,977 OMRs.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said they are no longer considering use of a hybrid system or Precinct Automated Tallying System (PATaS) proposed by former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman because of its prohibitive cost, logistics and legal problems.