Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Only one bidder hurdles Comelec's tough tests

By Bernice Camille V. Bauzon
Manila Times

Only one automation firm from an original list of seven prospective bidders for the P11.3-billion poll automation project of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) hurdled on Tuesday the pass-fail criteria set by the Special Bids and Awards Committee of the poll body.

The consortium of Smartmatic and Total Information Management (TIM) seemed to have become the frontrunner among the four that remained on the list after it passed the Comelec’s test for eligibility and technical and financial capabilities.

Of the remaining three other prospective bidders, two—Universal Storefront Services Corp. and Sequioa Systems and the joint venture of Gilat Satellite Network and F.F. Cruz and Co. Inc.—were still in the running, pending the Comelec’s decision on the motions for reconsideration that they had filed after being earlier disqualified from the prospective bidding.

The motion for reconsideration by AMA Group Holdings Corp. was denied by the bids committee for failure to meet requirements of the committee.

The bids committee on Monday night invited all the prospective bidders to bring their election machines to the bidding conference and prepare for a machine demonstration, a part of the qualifying requirements of the committee.

Of the four bidders, only Smartmatic passed the inspection made by the committee’s technical working group on Tuesday.

Bids committee Chairman Ferdinand Rafanan said that if the motions of reconsideration of Universal and Gilat were granted, they would also be asked to prepare for a machine demonstration.

Smartmatic bid on the automation project was P7.19 billion.

The system provider for the 2007 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), it said that if it won the bidding, its automation machines would be manufactured in Taiwan.

Next year’s polls had been expected to be the first fully automated elections in the Philippines. The vote will pick President Gloria Arroyo’s successor.

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