Comelec declares failed bidding for additional 10,000 vote counting machines for 2022 polls

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 9) — The Commission on Elections declared a failure of bidding for its plan to lease an additional 10,000 vote counting machines (VCMs) for the 2022 elections.

Only SMMT-TIM 2016, Inc. or Smartmatic, which has supplied the VCMs and the technology for automated elections since 2010, expressed intent to participate when it bought bid documents in August.

However, the company did not submit a formal proposal during the September 9 deadline for bids, saying the contract price of ₱60,050.35 was too cheap.

"We have given the procurement documents a thorough study, trying to find ways to comply with all the requirements within the approved budget. Unfortunately, we have determined that the budget is not sufficient to cover all of Comelec's conditions stated in the TOR (terms of reference)," SMMT-TIM representative Filipinas Ordono said in a letter to the Comelec Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC).

READ: Comelec panel defends considering Smartmatic in bidding for poll materials

Comelec set a maximum contract price of ₱600.5 million for the lease of 10,000 optical mark reader or optical scan system machines for voting precincts, 10,000 main SD Cards, and another 10,000 wormable SD cards. Deliveries must be made in three batches between Nov. 15 until Jan. 30, 2022.

Ordono cited a global shortage in electronic parts which drove up prices by 20-25%, as well as a sharp rise in logistics cost over the past year of the pandemic. Smartmatic vowed it can still deliver the voting equipment on time if the contract price is increased in a subsequent public bidding.

Comelec currently owns 97,345 vote counting machines but needs more as it plans to reduce the number of voters per precinct to 800 in keeping with COVID-19 health protocols.

In May, Smartmatic bagged the ₱637.44 million deal to refurbish the existing VCMs.

The SBAC said it will review the approved budget for the lease of additional voting machines.

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