Comelec is optimistic that poll automation contract will be signed next week

June 26, 2009 8:05 am 

MANILA, June 26 — Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials are optimistic that the P11.3-billion contract for the automation of the 2010 polls will be signed with the winning bidder Smartmatic/Total Information Management Corp. (Smartmatic/TIM) next week.

"We are looking to sign the contract, probably Tuesday (June 30). We’ve been discussing this in our meetings,” Comelec Commissioner Lucenito Tagle said.

He also said that the winning bidder for the automation contract had expressed apprehensions in pursuing the project because of certain issues, like what happened in the recent Senate inquiry, wherein they were grilled by some lawmakers.

“They are afraid that the project might not push through, but as what we see, they want to do it,” he said.

According to the Comelec official, the draft contract is now being reviewed by former Supreme Court Justices Hugo Gutierrez and Angela Sandoval Gutierrez.

For his part, Comelec Chairman Jose Melo is also confident that the poll automation will push through with the signing of the contract.

“We are holding meetings with concerned parties about the contents of the contract,” he said.

Melo added that they are just waiting for the joint venture documents of the Smartmatic/TIM consortium, as he explained that the said documents are required before they can push through with the signing of the contract.

On the other hand, Melo did not discount the possibility of having manual elections, if they failed to sign the contract next week. He noted that they would have time since it would only take three months to prepare for a manual polls.

“Manual ang aming fallback, kasi three months lang ang preparation dito,” he said.

The Comelec chief stressed, however, that they would want to automate the elections next year.

The consortium of Smartmatic/TIM was declared as the winning bidder that would automate the 2010 national and local polls by utilizing precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in the first-ever computerized elections of the country. (PNA) scs/FGP/utb

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