It’s war between 2 tech firms for Comelec contract
MANILA, Philippines–It looks like the war between two technology providers vying for a P2.5-billion contract at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the 2016 presidential polls has begun.
Smartmatic-TIM Corp., which provided the technology during the last two elections in the country, has questioned the eligibility of rival Indra Sistemas S.A. to participate in the public bidding for the lease of 23,000 optical mark reader (OMR) machines for the forthcoming balloting.
In a statement, Smartmatic-TIM lead counsel Ruby Yusi said the approval of Indra’s eligibility in the first stage of the bidding process was questionable since the Spanish company failed to properly designate a local representative for the bidding.
“Indra may not have the legal basis or legal personality to transact business with Comelec,” said Yusi, noting Indra’s failure to submit a board resolution designating its local branch office as the firm’s representative in the bidding process.
What Indra submitted, she said, was an outdated board resolution merely proving its authority to establish a branch office in the Philippines. “There is no indication that the authority pertains to the bidding for the 2016 elections,” she said.
Smartmatic’s lawyer also pointed out other technicalities such as the alleged failure of Indra’s head office to present a tax clearance certificate from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and its omission of at least 30 boxes in their sworn statement about its ongoing and completed projects.
“Indra only had the tax clearance for its Philippine branch, which unfortunately is only its local representative based on their application,” she said.
Yusi also said one of the documents submitted by Indra’s subcontractors was not notarized.
Early this month, the Comelec-Bids and Awards Committee approved Indra’s eligibility requirements and initial technical proposal during the first of the two-stage bidding procedure for the multibillion peso project.
Meanwhile, the Comelec-BAC voted 3-2 approving the eligibility of Smartmatic after raising questions on the firm’s tax clearance certificate and articles of incorporation. Only Indra and Smartmatic had submitted bid proposals for the lease of the OMR machines.
The Comelec needs 23,000 OMR units to supplement the 80,000 precinct count optical scan machines, which had been used during the first automated elections in 2010 and during the midterm elections in 2013.
The second stage of the bidding process will start next month. Indra and Smartmatic are expected to submit their final technical and financial proposals for the project.
Indra had expressed confidence that it would win the contract after submitting all the requirements the election body needed in order to be declared eligible to bid for the contract. It also earlier claimed that it had presented to the Comelec a “better technology” for the country’s third automated elections.
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