The Commission on Elections’ Advisory Council on Wednesday refused to scrap the contract for the repair and upgrade of the old Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, despite Comelec’s repeated failure to bid out the contract.
In an interview, Comelec commissioner Christian Robert Lim said that the CAC advised the poll officials to instead partially use both PCOS and Optical Mark Reader (OMR) units for the national and local elections next year.
The CAC’s point is that it is such a waste if the Comelec will not use the existing PCOS machines, Lim told the reporters at the sideline of the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for voters’ registration between Comelec and Fisher Mall through its owner and president Robert del Rosario.
Lim said that during their meeting with the CAC composed of technology experts and other stakeholders, the advisors urged the agency to look into the possibility of reducing the need for OMR machines from 70,977 to 50,000 machines and combining the OMR units and the existing PCOS units that are still in good condition.
Lim said that the CAC would want to see if it is possible that the winning bidder, the Smartmatic - Total Information Management—may produce only 50,000 OMR units instead of what the terms of reference require.
The CAC will submit a final recommendation on Friday.
Smartmatic was declared as the lowest bidder for the contract for the lease of 70,977 OMR units. Smartmatic-TIM submitted a bid of only P6.29-billion for the contract.
Asked if the use of combined PCOS and OMR is legal, Lim said that Comelec was studying legal possibilities and trying to find a middle ground.
Lim said that, they fear that once the Comelec has decided to reduce the machines that Smartmatic will manufacture, the technology provider may back out.
Last Saturday, the Comelec - Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC 2) declared a “Failure of Bidding” after the lone bidder, the joint venture Dermalog, Avante and Stone of David, was found to be “ineligible”.
The bidding held by the SBAC 2 was so far its second after the first round of public bidding failed as three companies who purchased the bid documents backed out.
Lim said so far, the commission en banc has yet to receive Dermalog-Avante’s motion for reconsideration.
Without the MR, Lim said that the Comelec may now officially enter into a negotiated bid with technology providers who bought the TOR of the refurbishment.
Companies which bought the document bid for the refurbishment and upgrade of 81,986 PCOS machines were Smartmatic - TIM, Miru Systems Co, and Dermalog - Avante and Stone of David.
Lim said that the Comelec is still on track in its preparations to automate the 2016 elections.
Under the original plan of the Comelec, the re-use of the 81,896 PCOS machines to be supplemented by the 23,000 OMR units was the first option.