Solons want to probe alleged irregular bidding for printing of ballots for May 2013 elections

LAWMAKERS urged Congress to conduct a probe, in aid of legislation, on the alleged irregularities surrounding the bidding process for the printing of official ballots for the May 2013 elections.

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and his brother, Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao), filed House Resolution 2995, which directs the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms to look into the bidding process.

According to the Cagayan de Oro lawmaker, the Commission on Election (Comelec) was allocated the sum of P784 million for the lease, installation and commissioning of printing machines including the supply and delivery of ballot paper with security features and other consumables for the printing of the official ballots for the May 13, 2013 national and local elections.

“The Comelec and National Printing Office (NPO) then entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the collaboration of the two agencies for the printing, supply and delivery of machine-readable ballots, among others,” he said.

Rodriguez said one of the requirements of MOA pertaining to ballots requires that it passes several tests such as the paper expansion test, the post-qualification tests and the test on actual printing and UV/PCOS mass testing.

“The NPO then issued an invitation to bid and its checklist for eligibility, but one of the requirements which states that the bidder must have been in existence since 2006 or earlier is allegedly an additional requirement of the NPO and is allegedly not in the MOA signed with the Comelec,” Rodriguez said.

He said of the prospective bidders—Advance Computer Forms, Inc. (Advance), Smartmatic-TIM Corporation (Smartmatic) and Holy Family-Canon (Holy Family) – that expressed interest, only Advance and Smartmatic were present during the Pre-Bid Conference.

“After the submission of bids and during the opening of the bids, Holy Family was declared the winner despite its failure to meet some requirements for eligibility. It failed to comply with the technical requirements and allegedly failed the testing of the NPO,” Rodriguez said.

“It was determined that Advance failed on two counts while Smartmatic failed on the ground that it had not been in existence since 2006,” Rodriguez added.

He said there are other alleged anomalies surrounding the bidding and these can only be threshed out by conducting a congressional probe.

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