Comelec: PCOS bidding open to all

MANILA: The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday called on local and foreign technology firms to participate in a bidding it was undertaking for the repair of old voting machines and the lease of new ones for the presidential elections next year.


Newly appointed Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said the election body wanted to consider as many bidders as possible for the refurbishment of 81,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) units and the lease of 23,000 new Optical Mark Reader machines.


“We hope there will be more bidders. That’s what I want. So we are encouraging companies both here and abroad to please participate in our bidding,” said Bautista in a recent interview with reporters.


While Comelec’s longtime technology partner Smartmatic-TIM has not been barred from joining the new bidding, Bautista assured other interested bidders that the Venezuelan firm will not have the upper hand in the new bidding round.


Bautista said all bidders, including the Venezuelan firm, will be on “equal footing.”


“What I can promise to all the bidders is that we will do it in a fair and square manner,” he added.


Initially, the Comelec awarded the P268.8-million contract to Smartmatic-TIM for the diagnostics and refurbishment of the PCOS machines used in the last elections.


But the Supreme Court last month, nearly a year before the 2016 presidential balloting, scrapped the deal saying the Comelec failed to justify its decision to resort to direct contracting with Smartmatic-TIM.