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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Smartmatic Gets Maintenance Contract for PCOS Machines

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) granted the maintenance contract of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to Smartmatic –Total Information Management (TIM) Corporation, the same firm which provided the poll automation machines in the past two elections, informed sources disclosed yesterday.
Smartmatic – TIM earlier extended to Comelec an extended warranty for the PCOS machines. “It was decided by the en banc to give the project to Smartmatic-TIM,” the source said, adding that the decision of the en banc is expected to be published this week.
According to the source, except for Commissioners Luie Guia and Arthur Lim, all the other commissioners led by Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes voted for the extended warranty.
Another source said the commissioners are also concerned that holding a public bidding might affect the timetable of the preparations for the 2016 polls.
“We might not have enough time to prepare if there will be a bidding since there is also the danger of a failed bidding,” said the source.
The source said the commissioners were also not convinced if their Information and Technology Department (ITD) can do a better job than Smartmatic-TIM in refurbishing the more than 80,000 PCOS machines.
“The commissioners have doubts as to the complete capability of the ITD in refurbishing the PCOS machines. It’s too risky!” said the source.
Earlier, Smartmatic– Asia President Cesar Flores said it would be very beneficial if the poll body will award the PCOS repair project to them instead of holding a public bidding since they are the ones who have the exclusive right to the machines including the parts.
“If you open this (refurbishing project) to other bidders, the other bidders will try to (get) parts, which they cannot because we have exclusivity on those parts,” he said.
The Comelec Law Department earlier already issued a legal opinion saying the commission can just exercise the extended warranty provided by Smartmatic if they can prove that they are the only ones that can provide the necessary services to the PCOS machines.
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