Shut up, Comelec chief tells losing bidder-A A +A
Friday, January 25, 2013
MANILA -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) slammed Friday officials of a losing bidder for continuously assailing the poll body despite already bringing its questions on the awarding of the supply of over 80,000 compact flash (CF) cards to Smartmatic International before the Supreme Court (SC).
In an interview, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said he cannot understand why officials of the losing bidder in the P46.5-million contract would still bash the commission while it has already sought intervention from the High Tribunal.
"That is already sub judice since it is already with the SC, which they themselves brought. Now, why are they holding a press conference? What do they want to imply?" Brillantes asked. "My feeling is they are having a press conference since they already know that their case will be dismissed by the SC."
Last week, LDLA Marketing filed a petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition before the SC accusing the Comelec of grave abuse of discretion in awarding the contract to Venezuelan firm, Smartmatic, last December 27.
But according to the poll chief, he cannot even understand why the company filed a case at the SC when the latter did not even exhausted all available measures in the Comelec.
"They did not file a protest with us. Why immediately go to the SC? There are rules under the procurement law. Even if they filed a motion for reconsideration, they can still file a protest to the Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC), which will then endorse to us in the en banc. They did not do that," Brillantes said.
In its press conference, LDLA chief executive officer Norlito Domantay accused the Comelec of breaking the law, particularly the Government Procurement Act or the Republic Act 9184, as well as their own bidding rules, specifically the Invitation to Bid it disseminated.
In particular, the company claimed that after two failed bids, their company, Smartmatic, and SPH International were invited to join the negotiations for the contract.
During the negotiations, LDLA's bid was only P33.5 million, SPH submitted a bid of P45.2 million, and Smartmatic posted a P50.9 million bid.
But instead of being disqualified, the company said the Comelec SBAC asked Smartmatic to simply lower its bid in order to meet the contract price.
On December 27, the commission awarded the contract to supply the 82,200 CF cards for the May 13 midterm elections to Smartmatic.
"Is that legal? This is not an allegation. Comelec awarded the project to Smartmatic on the pretense that the CF cards of the other bidders were somewhat defective. Then why were we invited in the first place?" asked Domantay.
"Clearly, the RA 9184 was not followed because Comelec strayed from the Daang Matuwid (straight path) and headed to Daang Buluktot (curve path)," he added.
Brillantes disputed Domantay's claims, saying that Comelec has to get the best available CF card supplies that would seamlessly perform, and not just look at the financial aspect, considering the importance of the CF cards in the automated election system (AES).
"The CF card is the key to the whole elections," Brillantes said.
In a previous interview, Comelec – SBAC chairperson Helen Flores also disclosed that they had difficulty using the CF cards of other bidders since their samples were found difficult to eject from the PCOS machines during the testing.
It can be recalled that in the 2010 polls, it was also Smartmatic-TIM that provided the CF cards used in each unit of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.
A week before the first automated polls in the country, it was revealed that there is a need to replace all the flash cards after some of them caused the malfunctioning of the PCOS machines during the final testing and sealing.
This prompted the Comelec and the service providers to scramble for all possible ways to retrieve, reconfigure, and re-deploy the CF cards in time for Election Day. (HDT/Sunnex)