By Robertzon Ramirez | The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday declared a failure of bidding for the lease of 10,000 additional vote counting machines (VCMs) that will be used for the May 2022 general elections.
The Comelec Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) said the lone bidder, Smartmatic Total Information Management Inc., withdrew its bid due to insufficient budget for the contract.
Only Smartmatic, which supplied the VCMs and the technology for automated elections in the 2010 elections, expressed intent to participate when it bought bid documents on Aug. 13.
“Considering that there are no bids submitted, the SBAC hereby declares a failure of bidding,” the Comelec said.
The poll body set a contract price of P600.5 million for the lease of 10,000 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 next year.
The Comelec said it received a letter from Smartmatic, detailing the reasons for its refusal to join the bidding.
“We have given the procurement documents a thorough study, trying to find ways to comply with the requirements within the approved budget. But we have determined that the budget is not sufficient to cover all of the Comelec’s conditions stated in the TOR (terms of reference),” Smartmatic said in a letter to the SBAC.
Smartmatic cited a global shortage in electronic parts, which increased prices by up to 25 percent as well as a sharp rise in logistics cost over the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Smartmatic said it could still deliver the voting equipment on time if the contract price is increased in a subsequent bidding.
Meanwhile, three weeks before the Sept. 30 deadline, a synchronized mall voter registration will be held tomorrow to encourage more people to sign up for the 2020 elections, the Comelec said.
The voter registration will be conducted in select malls of SM, Robinsons and Ayala nationwide.
The Comelec has resumed the voter registration in the National Capital Region, which remains under modified enhanced community quarantine until Sept. 15.
Voter applicants in Metro Manila will be accommodated until 5 p.m. only.
The National Capital Region Police Office said 350 police personnel would be deployed in malls tomorrow to ensure compliance with health and safety protocols.