By DWIGHT DE LEON | Rappler
From the refurbishment of thousands of vote-counting machines to the deployment of 2022 election equipment, here are some of the most significant contracts for next year's elections
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has been awarding contracts to companies for significant projects in relation to the 2022 elections, when voters will choose President Rodrigo Duterte's successor.
Some of the firms that bagged the contracts are being scrutinized due to their history or ties with Duterte, thus the concern by some sectors and watchdogs that the supplies and services they will provide might be used to favor the candidate that the outgoing president will endorse.
Below are some of the most crucial contracts for the 2022 national and local elections, and the companies that won them so far.
Refurbishment of 97,345 vote-counting machines
Approved budget for the contract: P660.741 million
Which firm won the project: Smartmatic, with a bid of P637.443 million
Smartmatic secured the deal in May after the poll body first declared a failure of bidding in December 2020.
During the second bidding in March 2021, it was Smartmatic's rival, PII-PSI JV, which first underwent post-qualification after tendering a bid lower than Smartmatic’s. However, the company’s incompatible sample SD cards during testing resulted in its post-disqualification.
PII-PSI JV has since filed a complaint accusing Comelec officials involved in the bidding for VCMs of conspiring to commit irregularities, according to a Manila Times report.
Procurement of Automated Election System (AES) software
Approved budget for the contract: P452.522 million
Which firm won the project: Smartmatic, with a bid of P402.725 million
The AES is "a system using appropriate technology which has been demonstrated in the voting, counting, consolidating, canvassing, and transmission of election results, and other electoral processes," according to the contract.
As Comelec's technology provider, Smartmatic is to ensure a fully operational integrated system and create a contingency plan for the AES "in case of system breakdown or any such eventuality which shall result in the delay, obstruction, or non-performance of the election process."
Transportation of election equipment, peripherals, forms, supplies and paraphernalia
Approved budget for the contract: P1.61 billion
Which firm won the project: F2 Logistics, with a bid of P535.999 million
Comelec's decision to award the contract to F2 Logistics was controversial due to the firm's ties to Dennis Uy, one of Duterte's top campaign donors in 2016. Despite the controversy, poll body officials guaranteed no law was violated in awarding the contract to the 2022 election supplies forwarder.
Supply and delivery of printers with toners
Approved budget for the contract: P45.057 million
Which firm won the project: Link Network Solutions, with a bid of P18.223 million
On its website, Link Network Solutions describes itself as a "Filipino-owned corporation" that supplies clientele needs for computers, printers, and scanners, among others.
Undergoing post-qualification process
Procurement of Secure Electronic Transmission Services (SETS)
Approved budget for the contract: P1.056 billion
Which firm won the project: No update in the Comelec website, but Smartmatic underwent post-qualification after having a single calculated bid of P1.053 billion on July 13
Lease of external batteries for the VCMs
Approved budget for the contract: P162.129 million
Which firm won the project: No update in the Comelec website, but Smartmatic underwent post-qualification after having a single calculated bid of P162.088 million on June 21.
If Smartmatic wins this project, as well as the SETS procurement, contracts won by the AES technology provider for the 2022 polls would accumulate to over P2.2 billion.
Supply and delivery of ballot papers, marking pens
Approved budget for the contract: P204.921 million
Which firm won the project: No update in the Comelec website, but Triplex Enterprises underwent post-qualification after tendering the lowest calculated bid of P154.912 million on August 6
On its website, Triplex Enterprises describes itself as "among the top paper converters in the Philippines…with 45 years of paper trading and converting experience." It edged out Smartmatic and another company during the open bidding.
Packaging services for the official ballots
Approved budget for the contract: P150.245 million
Which firm won the project: No update on the Comelec website, but Forms International Corporation underwent post-qualification after tendering a single calculated bid of P149.290 million in August
BIDDING STILL UNDERWAY
Supply and delivery of I-buttons for digital signature
Approved budget for the contract: P203.237 million
The Comelec's special bids and awards committee (SBAC) declared two failed competitive biddings for the project in June and July.
No company submitted a bidding proposal during the negotiated procurement on September 10, prompting the SBAC to refer the case to the project management office.
Lease of 10,000 VCMs with SD cards
Comelec declared a failed bid for the project on September 9. Smartmatic, the only firm to purchase bidding documents, did not submit a proposal to SBAC, saying the maximum budget for the contract was too cheap.
The lease contract is important because the Comelec needs more VCMs to raise the number of voting precincts. That, in turn, will reduce the number of voters assigned to each one of them, a crucial consideration amid the raging pandemic.
AES certification services
Approved budget for the contract: P55 million
A second round of bidding will be scheduled by the poll body after the Comelec declared a failed bid in August.
Republic Act 9369 or the Poll Automation Law requires the help of an international certification entity in certifying that the AES system is operating accurately.
Supply and delivery of ballot boxes
Approved budget for the contract: P200.781 million
Supply and delivery of Consolidation and Canvassing System (CCS) laptops
Approved budget for the contract: P116.160 million