Business Mirror - Comelec exec backs Sotto bid to keep AES track-record rule

1 December 2020

By Samuel Medenilla | Business Mirror

AN official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday rejected the attempt to remove prior track record for companies, which will be bidding for contracts related to automated election system (AES).

In her Twitter account, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon warned the proposal will diminish public trust in the outcome of the next elections if implemented.

“It is very risky if you waive bidding requirement of prior track record. [The] worst case scenario [if it its implemented]: chaos nationwide, allegations of fraud, and no credible elections,” Guanzon said.

The poll official issued the statement after Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he is now investigating an alleged attempt to insert a provision in the 2021 national budget authorizing Comelec to disregard the prior track record requirement.

Sotto explained the proposal is not likely to be included in the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA) since it is legally questionable.

He maintained that the 2021 GAA, which is a general law, cannot amend the Automated Election Law, which is a special law.

Section 12 of the Automated Election requires companies to have prior experience of providing service or products before they are allowed to participate in the bidding of AES-related contracts.

Guanzon lauded Sotto’s position and hoped he will push through with his probe on the matter.

“[It is] good that Sotto is looking at an attempt to insert in the GAA power of GAA to waive bidding requirement of suppliers’ prior successful track record in automated election,” Guanzon said.

Comelec has already started the bidding process for the refurbishment of its 97,345 units of vote counting machines (VCM), which it is eyeing to use in the 2022 National and Local elections.

Among the requirements for parties bidding for the P660-million contract is that they should have already entered into a similar contract within the last 10 years.