“The new lease deal is actually more costly than the previous PCOS refurbishment option.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon sees irregularities in the multi-billion peso lease deal and he wants the COMELEC to explain why when the government agency faces Congress for its proposed P15.5 billion budget for 2016.
The youth lawmaker especially wants to probe the deal brokered by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) with Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corp. for the lease of 93,977 new optical mark reader (OMR) machines for the upcoming national elections. The OMR is Smartmatic’s new PCOS machines; Comelec has previously purchased from Smartmatic 81,000-plus PCOS machines which it said would be reused in 2016 elections. Kabataan Rep. Ridon has previously questioned the Comelec decision not to use the old PCOS machines.
“The new lease deal is actually more costly than the previous PCOS refurbishment option, as the new deal is worth P8 billion as opposed to the refurbishment option worth only P3.13 billion,” Ridon said.
Aside from incurring a bigger additional expense, the OMR may not be compliant with RA 9369, Ridon said, citing Section 10, which states that “…the system procured must have demonstrated capability and been successfully used in a prior electoral exercise here or abroad.”
As if these were not enough, the new Comelec-Smartmatic deal has violated the law on government procurement, as various election watchdogs have pointed out. There is no legal basis for conducting two parallel bidding processes, yet the Comelec conducted bidding for the refurbishment contract at the same time conducting the bidding for the lease deal.
Ridon also questioned why the Comelec selected the Colorado-based certification company SLI Global Solutions to do the source code review. It is the same company which conducted the source code review in the 2010 and 2013 elections. Controversies and criticisms of lack of credibility have hounded that review.
“COMELEC must answer these serious concerns to allay fears of automated fraud in the upcoming polls,” Ridon ended.