Comelec wants ‘level playing field’ for 2025 NLE tech bidders

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Tuesday an inclusive and level procurement field must be ensured for the 2025 automated election system (AES). "Ayaw nating maakusahan na tayo ay may pinapaboran na kahit isang partido o supplier (We don't want to be accused of favoring a party or a supplier)," Comelec Chairperson George Erwin Garcia said in an interview. "Ang gusto natin maging level playing field, na maging open ang lahat at makapili ang Comelec ng tama na teknolohiya at maganda at maayos (We want to have a level playing field that is open to all so the Comelec could choose the right technology)." Garcia made the remark after the poll body followed up its request to the Government Policy Procurement Board, on its requirement for AES bidding participants for the 2025 national and local elections (NLE). In a letter, the Comelec requested to reduce its requirement of "Single Largest Completed Contract (SLCC) of at least Fifty Percent (50%) of the Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) or at least two (2) similar contracts with an aggregate amount equal to twenty-five percent (25%) of the ABC" to 30 percent to enable more prospective bidders to participate. "(It) is unduly restrictive, limiting the pool of potential bidders and possibly leading to higher costs for the government," the letter reads. Garcia explained that a 50 percent completed contract requirement seems like a "restriction of trade." "Kung gagawin nating 30 percent lamang... di hamak na madaming makapag-particpate, makakapag-offer ng kanilang teknolohiya. Baka mayroon tayong local talents na gustong mag-participate at mag-offer ng magandang teknolohiya (If we decrease it to 30 percent... there will be more participants offering their technologies. Perhaps we have local talents wanting to participate and offer their quality technology)," he said. Garcia noted that the procurement board earlier said they might reduce the requirement, provided the poll body submits a proposal. He said they sent a proposal as early as August but have yet to receive a confirmation from the body. The Comelec, meanwhile, said it needs to start accepting bidding offers not later than the third week of October, according to its terms of reference. It should also conclude the procurement or secure the "short of award" for the AES provider by December to be able to award the official contract in January 2024. Once awarded, the chosen AES provider may start the production of 110,000 automated machines for the 2025 NLE.

Source: Philippines News Agency