THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) defended its new service provider contract with Smartmatic International for the May 2022 national and local elections, saying it does not have control over the results of a public bidding.
In a virtual press briefing, Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said they did not choose Smartmatic, but the company joined the competitive bidding.
"It's beyond our control who will win the bidding. It will be the lowest calculated bidder," he said.
He said the public bidding followed existing policies on government procurement projects.
"We conducted a post-qualification, and there were observers during the bidding. We just followed what the GPPB (Government Procurement Policy Board) will give us," he stressed.
Smartmatic bagged the Comelec's P452.5-million procurement project for the automated elections system (AES) software for the election management system (EMS), vote counting machines (VCMs), and consolidation and canvassing system (CCS).
Smartmatic tendered a bid of P402,725,549.70.
The contract was awarded to Smartmatic despite the numerous election controversies involving the company since the May 2010 polls.
President Rodrigo Duterte had asked the Comelec to ditch Smartmatic already due to allegations of election fraud.
Casquejo clarified that Smartmatic has never been a partner of the poll body in running the elections.
"They are not our partners. They are just the providers. It's the Comelec that conducts the elections, not anyone else," said Casquejo. (HDT / SunStar Philippines)