Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Philippine poll body says poll machines must be ‘99.9995% accurate’

Emilia Narni J. David

MACHINES TO be used in the 2010 national elections will need to pass strict technical qualifications according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

In an interview with reporters, Ferdinand T. Rafanan, chairman of the special bids and awards committee said the machines must not make more than one mistake.

"The machines need to be 99.9995% accurate. Meaning, for 200 marks only one or less than one will be the error for 600 ballots," said Mr. Rafanan.

He added that the machines would be tested by the technical working group of the Comelec and other experts from the Department of Science and Technology.

The Comelec is hoping to test machines by Wednesday and hopefully begin the post-qualification requirements for the lowest bidders.

Over the weekend, the special bids and awards committee opened the financial bids of Indra Elections Consortium and Total Information Management (TIM)/ Smartmatic. The bids were P11.2 billion and P7 billion, respectively.

However, the Comelec will not reveal the lowest calculated bid until all motions for reconsideration has been resolved.

"We will defer the lowest calculated bid until after all the motions for reconsideration and clarifications have been decided on," said Mr. Rafanan.

He added that Gilat/ F.F. Cruz and Co., Inc. is expected to file its motion for reconsideration today.

Representatives of F.F. Cruz and Gilat earlier said in a statement that there was no lack of documentation in the materials it presented to the Comelec.

"The lawyer representing our consortium was a new one. Since he was not too familiar with the documents, [he] failed to find the ballot management plan," said the company in its statement released yesterday.

AMA Group of Companies/ Election System and Software already filed for a motion for reconsideration. Both companies were originally allowed to proceed with the bidding but were disqualified once more after failing to provide documents required by the Comelec.

In a late development, Indra Elections Consortium was disqualified by the Comelec special bids and awards committee because it will be unable to provide 82,000 machines for the precincts, among other financial matters.

Comelec spokesperson James Arthur B. Jimenez, however, said "the company may still file for a motion for reconsideration."

Mr. Rafanan said the poll body is already investigating the list of incorporators of each company bidding.

The companies must declare that "there is no controlling stockholder, officer or incorporator that is related to an elected incumbent politician" Mr. Rafanan said.

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