Smartmatic contract questioned before SC

By , on April 4, 2016

Smartmatic logo
Smartmatic logo

MANILA – More than a month before the 2016 synchronized automated national elections, a petition was filed against the Commission on Elections (Comelec)about its preparation for the conduct of the forthcoming presidential elections.

In its petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus dated March 31, 2016, losing bidder Northern Worx KPO Inc., NextIX Inc., and Kit Properties Inc Joint Venture asked the Supreme Court (SC) to prohibit the Comelec from awarding the contract for the establishment of the National Technical Support Center (NTSC) for the May 9 elections to the Smartmatic-TIM by issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO).

The petitioners also asked the Supreme Court (SC) to compel the Comelec to have the project be awarded to them for having submitted the lowest calculated responsive bid.

The NTSC is the unit mandated to render technical assistance to each component of the elections.

Named as respondents in the petition are the Comelec and the Joint Venture of Smartmatic TIM Corporation, Total Information Management Corporation, Smartmatic International Holtint BV, Jarltech International Inc and LRA Pacific Management Consulting Inc.

In a pre-bid conference conducted on Jan. 11, 2016, only two bidders participated, the joint ventures of Northern Worx and that of the Smartmatic-TIM.

The project has an approved budget of more than Php 122 million.

On Jan. 25, 2016, the Comelec-Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) declared the Northern Worx as the one who have submitted the lowest calculated bid with a bid of Php 90.88 million against the Smartmatic-TIM which posted a bid of Php 122.71 million.

However, the BAC, in a resolution dated Feb. 15, 2016,disqualified the Northern Worx after the post-qualification conducted by the BAC’s Technical Working Group.

The petitioner’s joint venture protested their disqualification but it was denied by the Comelec en banc on the ground that the net financial contracting capacity is not at least equal to the approved budget for the contract.

Believing that the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in its decision, the petitioner elevated the case to the SC.

“The petitioner has a clear and unmistakable right to be awarded as the bidder with the lowest calculated responsive bid, having complied with all the bidding and technical requirements provided for by the law and the terms of reference of the said bidding,” the petition said.

They also argued that since the setting up of the NTSC Service would have to start by April 4, 2016, there is an urgent necessity for the issuance of the writ that would prevent the BAC from awarding the contract to Smartmatic Joint Venture.

“[Smartmatic] is clearly not the lowest calculated responsive bidder as their posted bid price of Php 122.71 million is much higher than the bid price of Northern Worx Joint Venture, who submitted the lowest calculated bid with a bid of Php 90.88 million with a glaring difference of Php 31.82 million to the prejudice of both the petitioner and the government,” they said.