Friday, 22 May 2009

Poll automation machines set for demonstration

Manila Bulletin

Smartmatic/Technology Information Management Corp., the consortium that remains in the running for the highly contested P11.3-billion poll automation project, may start demonstrating its machines Friday before the Commission on Elections’ Special Bids and Awards Committee (Comelec-SBAC).

This will push through if the SBAC denies the motion of Gilat/F.F. Cruz and Company, Inc. and refuses to accept the motion for reconsideration made by Indra Sistemas/Strategic Alliance Holdings Inc/Hart Intercivic group.

The SBAC, led by its chairman Atty. Ferdinand Rafanan, is expected to rule on the appeal of Gilat/F.F. Cruz, which earlier asked the panel to reconsider their technical bid.

On Thursday, Indra also filed an appeal requesting the SBAC to accept their financial documents.

The SBAC earlier disqualified the Spain-based Indra after their bid showed that they could only supply 50,000 voting and counting machines, much lower than the Comelec’s requirement of 82,200.

Jojie Villa, spokesperson of the Smartmatic, meantime, expressed readiness in demonstrating their machines.

"Upon their go signal, we will demo to the Comelec. We are ready. We will demo our Precinct Counting Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, including the transmission, canvassing based on Comelec’s criteria," Villa told reporters.

"We are confident that the full end-to-end demonstration will be smooth," he added.

Smartmatic’s offer of P7.2 billion for the project remains the lowest.

The SBAC had already disqualified for failing in the eligibility requirements Avante International/Canon Marketing Phils/Netnode Technologies/DB Vizards/Creative Point, AMA Group of Companies/Election System and Software, Syrex Incorporation/Amalgamated Metro Philippines/Anishin Inc, and Sequoia Voting Systems/Universal Storefront Services.

Meanwhile, Rafanan said Gilat beat last Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline for the filing of a motion for reconsideration.

Rafanan said SBAC has seven days to resolve Gilat’s motion but hinted that it will not take that long for the committee to resolve the motion.

The last of the bidders whose motion for partial reconsideration and clarification filed by the consortium of Seuoia Voting System of the United States and Universal Store Front Services Corporation of the Philippines, was denied by SBAC based on its admission that USSC/Sequoia Voting Solutions, Inc. was incorporated only on April 16, 2009.

"It was an unsolicited admission straight from the movant. Thus, being one month old only, it could not submit the required financial eligibility document which would assure the Comelec and the election stakeholders that Comelec will contract only with qualified bidders," SBAC Resolution No. 09-003 said.

Rafanan hinted that filing another motion for reconsideration is part of due process but pointed out that the Comelec Rules of Procedure considers the filing of a second motion for reconsideration a prohibitive pleading. (with a report by E. T. Suarez)

Election preparations on track – Sarmiento

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), now in deep preparations for the May 10, 2010 elections, is not affected by the moves to effect Charter Change (Cha-Cha) by convening Congress into a Constituent Assembly or passing the amendments by three-fourths vote in each of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento said in a speech at the General Membership Meeting of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) held at the historic landmark Manila Hotel.

Sarmiento said Comelec is conversant with House Resolution No. 1109, which seeks to turn Congress into a constituent assembly and effect Charter Change by a joint vote of the House and the Senate, as well House Resolution 737 authored by Speaker Prospero Nograles, which calls for amendments by a three-fourths vote in each of the two chambers, instead of a simple majority as required in passing bills.

However, Sarmiento stressed that the poll body cannot be distracted in its efforts to ensure that next year’s polls will strengthen rather than weaken democracy.

The youngest commissioner of the seven-man poll body, Sarmiento made the assurance of Comelec’s thorough preparations for next year’s polls because of recurring public perception that Charter change is being pushed through to extend the terms of incumbent officials, effect a shift from presidential to parliamentary system of government, and deny the people the right to elect their public officials by cancelling next year’s political exercise. (ETS)

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