A veteran advocate for clean elections on Sunday warned that the May 2022 polls was expected to be marred by another widespread fraud like previous accusations due to the implementation of supposed “grand plan to cheat” the national and local elections as the Smartmatic Corporation sealed its fifth contract from the Commission on Elections.
The Comelec’s record showed that the poll body had awarded the Smartmatic the contracts for the refurbished vote counting machines (VCMs), secure digital (SD) main cards, SD write once-read many (WORM) cards, cleaning sheets, software deal for election management system, VCMs (separate from the refurbished VCMs) and consolidation-canvassing system.
Lawyer Glenn Chong, a vocal opponent of elections fraud, said “all the contracts for the 2022 elections are monopolized by the Smartmatic with the active connivance of the COMELEC”.
“Despite of the public advice of President Rodrigo Duterte to replace Smartmatic due to the issue of cheating, the Comelec forced its way to let the Venezuelan IT company control its machinery” Chong said.
Based on the information released to the media, the Comelec awarded to the Smartmatic last December 2020 the contracts for the “refurbishment” of 97,345 VCMs, supply of 109,745 SD main cards, supply of same number of SD WORM Cards and 250,000 cleaning sheets, despite the fact that the price it offered was much higher at P637,443,308.45.
The lone competitor of Smartmatic in the bidding was the Pivot International Inc. and Power Service (PSI) Inc. Joint Venture that offered the lowest calculated bid at around P490 million.
If the law on bidding was strictly followed, Comelec should have awarded the contracts to the PSI Joint Venture since it offered the “lowest calculated bid” (LCB) of P490 million compared to Smartmatic’s much expensive offer of P637.4 million.
However, records showed that the poll body’s special bids andn awards committee (SBAC) disqualified the PSI Joint Venture during the December bidding due to a mere clerical issue of “zero” or “dash” and the specific bid prices of the SD cards and the cleaning sheets.
Comelec did not ask the Smartmatic about the same issues as the latter offered a single price for all the products.
Another bidding was held by the Comelec on May 5 for the software on election management system, VCMs and consolidation-canvassing system.
Smartmatic and PSI Joint Venture once again competed against each other at the COMELEC’s turf.
Once again, the PSI Joint Venture won the bidding as it passed the LCB compared to Smartmatic’s huge price.
However, Comelec’s SBAC disqualified the PSI Joint Venture in the second bidding due to the 15GB in the SD Cards that was short of 16GB that theComelec had required.
According to the PSI Joint Venture verified complaint, its SD Cards was “reformatted” by the SBAC.
After the disqualification was done following the conduct of the “post evaluation bid”, Comelec awarded to Smartmatic the contracts on the software for the election management system, VCMs and the consolidation-canvassing system.
Chong stressed that what the Comelec’s SBAC and its top honchos have done was “In a very public manner, contradicted the president and it violated Republic Act 9369, or Automated Elections System Law, and Republic Act 3019, or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”.
He averred that what happened was a “clear manipulation of COMELEC’s SBAC’s bidding process in order to disqualify the lowest bidder for the contracts of the vote counting machines and SD cards”.