Is The COMELEC Bidding Designed To Fail?
Between COMELEC Chairman Jose Melo and the poll body’s media-friendly and topic-competent spokesman James Jimenez most any would most certainly grant the benefit of the doubt that there is sincerity when they say there will be automated national elections for the first time in Philippine history.
Looking at the fast approaching May 22 deadline the COMELEC set for itself to appoint a technology and systems provider for the May 11 2010 elections, they are really cutting it close.
COMELEC won’t admit it but it certainly is at panic point and it staring failure of bidding for the PhP 11.3-B project in the face.
He has, quite prudently not made any comment yet, but Sen. Dick Gordon, father of the AES law may actually see his dream go up in smoke.
There are even some quarters like former COMELEC Chairman Christian Monsod ho’s warned that “there could be automated cheating in 2010.”
I hate to say this but the way the COMELEC has been bungling the bidding starting with its supposedly stringent but shot-full-of-holes bidding procedures one cannot be faulted for suspecting that they have been designed to fail, wittingly or unwittingly.
Witness how, among other incidents,:
1. The bidding bulletins have repeatedly been revised almost whimsically;
2. The sealed bids were not opened simultaneously the way normal public biddings are conducted, with each of the bids scrutinized absent clear, previously announced documentary submission requisites such as payroll lists of partner subsidiaries or the required previous project undertakings relative to scope of work and costs;
Recapping this angle, ABS-CBN’s NewsBreak online reports how
“In the original Terms of Reference, the Comelec said that bidders should have completed a contract that is 50 percent of P11.3 billion.
A few days later, the SBAC amended this provision, saying that bidders can qualify as long as they can show three contracts completed in the past three years whose total amount is equivalent to 50 percent of P11.3 billion. The largest of the three contracts should amount to 25 percent of the total automation cost.”
After disqualifying all seven joint-venture bidders last week, telling them what requirement they failed to satisfy, four have just been “re-qualified.”
Now comes the dangerous part.
If and when one of the “requalified bidders” is now picked, having been allowed “to cure” his disqualification, will the losing bidders not protest and have solid legal ground to question the award and tie the whole AES process in litigation including obtaining a temporary restraining order to prevent the contract implementation?
The ‘fallback scenario’ the COMELEC is thinking of, obtaining Supreme Court permission to use the warehoused voting equipment covered in the anomaly-ridden Metro Pacific contract fiasco, is equally dangerous since that does not include a data transmission backbone.
Summing it up we are really faced with again holding fraud-assured elections in 2010.