Comelec to spend P8B for lease of 93,000 new machines

Marlon Garcia of Smartmatic Corporation shows the use of a Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) headquarters in Manila on Tuesday. Use of the PCOS in the 2016 elections is still up in the air after the Supreme Court voided Comelec's maintenance contract with Smartmatic last April.(MNS photo)

Marlon Garcia of Smartmatic Corporation shows the use of a Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) headquarters in Manila on Tuesday. Use of the PCOS in the 2016 elections is still up in the air after the Supreme Court voided Comelec’s maintenance contract with Smartmatic last April. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – About P8 billion will be spent for the lease of more than 93,000 optical mark reader (OMR) machines for the 2016 elections.

The lease contract was awarded to Smartmatic, the same technology provider for the 2010 and 2013 polls.

National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) member and former Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Gus Lagman alleged Smartmatic appears to have a monopoly over providing machines for Philippine elections.

But Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said Smartmatic won the bidding for the contract fair and square.

“Lahat yan dumaan sa bidding, and in all the biddings that we conducted, those were open biddings,” Jimenez said.

“Unfortunately, the quality of participation kinda fell short of actually becoming competitive. Ultimately, what does that result in? It results in only one bidder being left and the only bidder left was Smartmatic,” he said.

“Perhaps the feeling is that it’s going to be rigged. It’s Smartmatic anyway,” said Lagman.

The Comelec said existing precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines will be refurbished for the 2019 elections.

But Lagman pointed out this could have been done as early as 2014.

“Smartmatic is obligated to train Comelec personnel on diagnosing the problems of the PCOS machines and repairing them. They didn’t,” Lagman said.

“If they did, had they done that, then they could have started diagnosing last year… So they delay these things until they run out of time. Eh sumusunod lang naman sila sa kagustuhan ng Smartmatic eh,” he added. (MNS)

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