MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will review its contract with the suppliers of the secure digital (SD) cards and marking pens due to the glitches that were recorded during Monday’s mid-term elections.
“Definitely, I asked the Law Department to review the possible penalties in case there is a violation of the contract. But of course, we have to hear their side. With regards to the SD card, the contractor is S1 and Triplex for the paper and marking pens,” Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas said Tuesday.
It was reported that many marking pens were found to be “bleeding” and have been replaced days before the start of the polls.
Asked whether they would again get Smartmatic International as supplier of the vote counting machines (VCMs), which were also used in the 2016 and 2019 polls, Abas said they have to abide by the procurement law.
“It will undergo bidding. Whether we like it or not, we have to follow the procurement law. If they win under the procurement law, we have no choice,” he said, noting that procurement involves many processes and requirements.
“Second, with regard to automation, the law states that the bidder must be experienced. These are what we are looking at. We have to comply with the law,” he added.
On Tuesday, Abas reported that 1,665 or 1.9 percent of the 85,769 SD cards and 961 VCMs were found to be faulty and were replaced.
“Now a quick comparison as to VCMs (that) malfunctioned in 2016. There were a total of 801 defective VCMs during the 2016 elections. There are more defective VCMs this year, at 961. The same with SD cards. From 120 in 2016, it’s 1,665 this year,” he pointed out.
Commissioner Marlon Casquejo, head of the Comelec Steering Committee, said one possible reason why some of the SD cards did not work is their poor quality.
“As stated earlier, (there are more defective) SD cards but with the VCM, (the number is almost the same). We suspect that the SD cards is the low quality of SD cards because if we do the bidding process, our ABC (Approved Budget for the Contract) is about PHP80 million,” he explained.
“However, since we are applying the procurement rules, the lowest bid (was) only PHP29 million. So what do we expect with a 29 million SD cards for that scenario?” the Comelec official added.
The poll body said that the glitches encountered have caused the delays in some polling precincts, which failed to open at 6 a.m. on Election Day.
Ferdinand Patinio / PNA – northboundasia.com