The Philippine Star : Comelec earmarks P864 million for vote counting machines

15 October 2021

By Alexis Romero | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has increased its budget for the lease of 10,000 additional vote counting machines (VCMs) for use in the 2022 polls by at least P263.520 million, more than a month after it declared a failure of bidding when its lone bidder withdrew its bid due to insufficient budget for the contract.

In an invitation to bid posted on its official website, the Comelec said that it allotted P864,024,067 for VCMs, or P263,520.567 higher than its initial budget of P600,503,500 that was turned down by its lone bidder Smartmatic Total Information Management Inc. as this was deemed “not sufficient” for the project.

The invitation to bid was signed by Allen Francis Abaya, chairperson of the Comelec’s special bids and awards committee (SBAC), issued on Oct. 9, 2022.

Smartmatic said that it backed out from joining the bidding due to a global shortage in electronic parts, which increased prices by up to 25 percent as well as a sharp increase in logistics cost over the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only Smartmatic, which supplied the VCMs and technology for automated elections in the 2010 elections, expressed intent to participate in the bidding when it bought bid documents on Aug. 13.

Under the new invitation to bid with P864.024 million budget, the Comelec intends to lease 10,000 units of optical mark reader (OMR), or optical scan (OPSCAN) precinct counter (popularly known as VCMs) along with the supply and delivery of 10,000 pieces each of main and wormable SD cards.

The Comelec said that the delivery of VCMs with the main and the wormable SD cards will be in three batches: on Jan. 31, Feb. 28 and March 15, 2022.

Bidding will be conducted through open competitive bidding procedures using a non-discretionary “pass/fail” criterion as specified in the 2016 revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The Comelec urged interested bidders to inspect the bidding documents at its secretariat office of the special bids and awards committee in Intramuros, Manila from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., subject to standard health protocols being implemented by the poll body.

Other instructions are available at the Comelec’s official website.

In another development, the Comelec said that it has already received a total of 6,162,122 new voter registrants for the May 2022 national and local elections since they started accepting applications for voter registration in August last year.

Of the number, the Comelec said that 3,102,854 of them are male registrants while 3,059,268 are female. – Delon Porcalla, Cecille Suerte Felipe