House Independent Bloc leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez on Thursday prodded the Commission on Elections to ensure that a “no-election” scenario in 2016 would not occur amid criticism raised by some sectors that the Comelec was not prepared to automate the polls.
Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), said Comelec chair Andres Bautista must exhaust all means to guarantee that the May 9, 2016 automated polls will push through as scheduled despite the declaration made by the Special Bids and Awards Committee-2 of the poll body on a failed second bidding for the contract to refurbish 81,896 precinct count optical scan machines.
“I am confident that the poll body can carry their mandate and decide on what is best for the interest of the country despite the failed second bidding in the refurbishment of PCOS,” Romualdez said.
“Let us all work for the maintenance of good. I believe the Comelec will not allow a possible no-election scenario,” he said.
Romualdez made the statement as Bautista said the poll body would ensure the success of a parallel public bidding for the refurbishment and repair of the 81,896 PCOS machines and the purchase of 100,000 Optical Mark Reader (OMR) voting machines for the peaceful conduct of the national elections on May 9, 2016.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he was confident the Comelec would still be able to address the problem.
“The failed two biddings are very serious concern, but still hoping that the poll body can address this problem,” Belmonte said.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., a former chair of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, said the Comelec could still lease two batches of brand new 23,000 OMR voting machines and another new batch of 70,977 OMRs.
“I talked to some directors of the Comelec and they assured that leasing new OMR machines based on their timetable is really possible,” Barzaga said. “These new machines are very reliable unlike repairing the old ones whose successful operation cannot be guaranteed and we cannot even
assure that there will be no delays,” Barzaga, vice chair of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, said.
Barzaga said the lease will be P2 billion more expensive than the refurbishment of the existing PCOS machines.
In separate letters submitted to SBAC-2, Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corp. and Miru Systems Co. attributed their decision to withdraw from the P3.1-billion project to the tight timeline imposed by the Comelec.
Smartmatic-TIM Corp. said it has “serious doubts and legitimate concerns whether this project is still feasible,” considering that the election day is barely nine months away.
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