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Smartmatic files protest against Comelec group; calls for blacklisting of Indra

Smartmatic has filed a protest before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against the poll body’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) and the Technical Working Group for disqualifying the joint venture of Smartmatic TIM Corporation, Total Information Management Corporation, Smartmatic International Holding B.V. and Jarltech International Corporation from the bidding for the lease of direct recording electronic (DRE) technology machines to be used for the upcoming May 2016 elections.

In its protest, the Smartmatic joint venture (JV) maintained that the BAC seriously erred when it ruled for the disqualification of the JV and disregarded the opinion and issuances of the General Procurement and Policy Board (GPBB).

In its Resolution No. 3 dated February 25, 2015, the BAC declared Smartmatic JV as automatically disqualified from the DRE Project supposedly for submitting a “non-responsive” bid because of its alleged failure to indicate a price or at least a zero in the spaces for the items falling under the category of other requirements; training; risk management and contingency planning; change management; and quality control and quality assurance in the overall summary of the financial proposal.

However, the protest cited the position of BAC member Divina E. Blas-Perez who dissented on the disqualification of Smartmatic on the grounds that the totality of the financial bid should be considered and not just the summary. The detailed costing of the abovementioned items show that zeroes were placed, and that an evaluation covering the entire submission would prove that the offer was responsive and compliant with the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act (GPRA).

Calls for suspension and blacklisting of Indra

Smartmatic also called for the suspension and blacklisting of Indra Sistemas S.A. for making a mockery of the electoral process because of the fraudulent statements and misrepresentations it made in the documents it submitted to Comelec.

In its protest filed before the Comelec BAC, Smartmatic JV said the certification Indra submitted for its contract with the city government of Madrid did not involve an electoral exercise but a mere ” District Round Tables for Dialogue” activity, where in the Spanish company only provided technical advise during the dialogue whose main objective was to establish channels of communication between the district boards and the local residents.

Smartmatic also asked for the suspension and blacklisting of Indra for “falsely claiming that it supplied an optical mark reader  (OMR) system to various countries even if in reality, it did not.”

Smartmatic claims that Indra’s Argentina contract where documents obtained by Smartmatic revealed that the 2013 parliamentary elections in Argentina were not automated.

Citing the Provincia Buenos Aires Junta Electoral, Smartmatic pointed out that 2013 Parliamentary election was not a contract subject to the OMR bidding, and that Indra merely took charge of a provisional non-official vote quick count system. “The counting and consolidation of the votes in the Argentina elections involved human intervention and was not clearly an automated electoral exercise.”

“Indra did not actually use its own technology but utilized Fujitsu fi-5900 scanners that do not use OMR technology. The machines did not read ballots but only manually tallied election returns in the form of telegrams which had to be manually fed to the scanners. In short, Indra’s system did not read marks but only provided a backup image based on manually encoded results,” said Smartmatic in a release issued to the press.

Smartmatic pointed out that under Philippine election laws, automated election machines and systems bidders should have a demonstrated capability not only to undertake automated elections, but must also have the requisite prior experience.

“Clearly, Indra’s blatantly fraudulent claims and misrepresentation is a deliberate attempt to mislead not only the Commission on Elections but the entire Filipino people who look upon the elections and the act of voting as a sacred right,” said Smartmatic.

The Comelec BAC also disqualified Indra on the OMR bid for having submitted a bid higher than the approved ceiling price.

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