Comelec yet to award online voting contract

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
Comelec yet to award online voting contract
Individuals fill out registration forms during the first day of the voter’s registration of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the 2025 National and Local Elections at the Comelec District 2 office in Quezon City on February 12, 2024.
Michael Varcas / The Philippine STAR

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is still doing post-qualification evaluation and has yet to award a contract for the online voting and counting system (OVCS) for overseas voting in the May 2025 midterm elections.

“The two joint venture companies that pre-qualified are still undergoing post-qualification (evaluation) by the technical working group,” Comelec Chairman George Garcia said yesterday.

Garcia issued the statement in reaction to criticisms over the public bidding of the P465-million OVCS project of the commission.

One of the bidders, which was previously declared “ineligible” by the Comelec, questioned what it considered the “low bid” of another bidder.

The joint venture of AMA Group Holdings Corp., Dasan Network Solutions Inc. and Kevoting Inc. twice sought a reconsideration of its bid that was declared “ineligible” first on April 4 before the special bid and awards committee – automated election system (SBAC-AES) and second, on April 12 before the Comelec en banc.

According to the joint venture, they were flatly rejected twice without opening the bid.

“The Comelec en banc did not reconsider the second motion because the joint refused to pay the P2.3 million non-refundable protest fee, which was 5 percent of the project cost,” it said in a statement.

Garcia said the protest fee is a mandatory requirement of the procurement law.

In its motions for reconsideration, the AMA-Dasan-Kevoting joint venture argued the SBAC has refused to look into the low bid of P112 million by the SMSGT Technologies and Sequent Technologies Joint Venture.

“Its bid represented only 25 percent of the estimated project cost, raising questions on its capacity to handle the 2025 overseas voting system,” AMA-Dasan-Kevoting claimed.

The AMA-Dasan-Kevoting said there were deficiencies like failure of the SMSGT-Sequent joint venture to submit 14001 ISO Certification (Environmental Management System) or its equivalent. It also does not have sufficient credentials to prove their internet voting system was successfully used in an electoral exercise.

In its second motion for reconsideration, AMA-Dasan-Kevoting joint venture raised the question if SMSGT-Sequent has submitted any written certification from an election authority that it was indeed successful in the previous electoral exercise it handled.

It mentioned that one of its executives admitted in its post-bid evaluation that the only electoral exercise it did was the referendum in Madrid that involved 1.2 million voters.

It said: “SMSGT-Sequent should not be allowed to participate in the first place for failure to prove that ultimately their a.) internet/online voting system has a proven track record of being successfully implemented in at least one election year here or abroad; and the proposed internet voting system has been successfully used in a prior electoral exercise.”

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