COMELEC panel defends considering Smartmatic in bidding for poll materials

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 6) – The Commission on Elections Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) stands by its decision to include Smartmatic in the bidding for the supply and delivery of ballot paper and marking pens for the 2022 elections.

The approved budget for the contract is ₱204.9 million, which includes ₱132.1 million for the ballot paper and ₱72.8 million for the marking pens.

The deal requires 2,680 rolls of ballot paper and 1,946,900 pieces of marking pens to be used during next year's polls.

Smartmatic's total bid amounted to ₱198 million. The poll technology provider's quotation showed ₱146.6 million for the paper, and ₱51.3 million for the marking pens.

The company has been maintaining and operating voting machines since the country's first automated elections in 2010.

Voting 15-1, the SBAC Technical Working Group recommended Smartmatic's bid be considered eligible.

However, Juliet Villena of rival bidder Advance Computer Forms, Inc. pointed out that Smartmatic's bid for ballot paper was above the ceiling price.

She cited previous deals with the poll body wherein bidders with proposals higher than the approved amount were disqualified.

Smartmatic's representative Filipinas Ordoño said the assumption was the total lot price.

The SBAC also ruled in favor of Smartmatic after their deliberation. Chairman Allen Francis Abaya said, "The procurement of the two items, the ballot paper and the marking pens, are grouped into one lot and will be awarded as one contract."

Abaya cited NPM No. 130-2015, a bid award contract, as basis for their decision. It states, "The procuring entity may group several items into a single lot and award the same as one contract. In such case, the sum of the respective budgets or ABCs [approved budget for the contract] for the items aggregated into one lot becomes the ABC for such lot."

Villena said they will review the document and file a motion for reconsideration if necessary.

COMELEC declares Triplex Enterprises, Inc. as 'lowest calculated bid'

The SBAC declared Triplex Enterprises, Inc. as the lowest calculated bid for the ballot paper and markers for the 2022 polls.

It bested Smartmatic and Advance Computer Forms, Inc., other eligible bidders in the process.

The paper manufacturer's bid for the contract is ₱154.91 million.

The post-qualification process will start immediately, where bidders will undergo verification and validation of the requirements specified by Comelec.