Sunday, 10 May 2009

Comelec won’t give up on poll automation plan

Manila Bulletin

Four of the seven consortiums declared disqualified or ineligible to bid for the R11,223,618,400 project of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the full automation of the May 10, 2010 presidential, congressional, local and party-list polls have filed motions for reconsideration before the poll body’s Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC).

Meanwhile, Comelec spokesman Director James Jimenez said the commission was not giving up on its plan to automate the 2010 national elections and will do everything it can to make it happen amid fears of a failure in the bidding.

“We will try to get the automation done within the bounds of the law. We will do everything we can to make it happen,” Jimenez said at a news forum in Quezon City.

Avante International of United States, Indira Sistemas of Spain, Sequoia Voting Systems of USA and Smartmatic of Netherlands have already filed motions for reconsideration.

The three other consortiums, Anishin, Inc. of Taiwan, Election Software of USA and Gilat of Israel, had until last Saturday to file their motions for reconsideration but since Saturday is a non-working day, they are expected to file their motions on Monday.

The SBAC, composed of Comelec Law Department Director Ferdinand T. Rafanan as chairman, Director Adolfo A. Ibanez as vice chairman, lawyers Divina E. Blas-Perez and Rey D. Doma, and Aida C. Fernandez as members, vowed to act on the motions for reconsideration expeditiously so as not to disrupt Comelec timetable of preparations for next year’s automated elections.

The action of SBAC on the motions for reconsideration will be crucial to the success of Comelec’s poll automation project, according to prominent election lawyers Francisco B. Sibayan, Jose P. Icaonapo Jr. and Ernesto S. Dinopol who have been closely following the bidding proceedings.

Jimenez said the disqualification of all seven bidders for the automation project is not a cause for worry as there are still remedies available to ensure that the Comelec would be able to push through with computerizing next year’s elections.

Jimenez, director of the Comelec education and information department, said the disqualified bidders can still appeal the decision of the poll body’s special bids and awards committee.

The Comelec official said he is confident the poll body will be able to meet the deadline for the awarding of the poll automation contract to the winning bidder.

“The original calendar is an award towards the end of May, which is still possible,” Jimenez said.

“The bids and award (committee), by the middle of next week, will issue a resolution on the motion (appeal) of the bidders,” he added.

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