By Ferdinand G. Patinio
MANILA, August 14 (PNA) — After approving the lease of the new Optical Mark Reader (OMR) machines for the May 2016 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is not inclined to purchase the units.
In a nine-page resolution promulgated on Thursday, the Comelec en banc said the lease of the 70,977 OMR units excludes the “option to purchase” clause present in the original Terms of Reference (TOR).
“… Provided that this award pertains solely to the lease of the aforementioned units of OMR and provided further that the commission will not exercise the option to purchase,” based on the Comelec Resolution No. 9980.
The project, which was awarded to Smartmatic – Total Information Management (TIM) Corp., will only be for the lease of the 70,977 OMR machines for Php 6.286 billion. The “option to purchase” clause costs another Php 1.576 billion in the Smartmatic-TIM bid.
On the other hand, such a provision is not included in the Comelec en banc resolution last June 29 for the lease project of 23,000 OMR units.
Both parties are in the final stages of the contract negotiations for the 23,000 OMR machines, which will cost the government Php 2.2 billion (Php 1.7 billion for lease; Php 500 million for the option to purchase).
On the other hand, Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez noted that the decision of the en banc was logical.
“You have to remember that the 23,000 OMR units will be used regardless if it is the old PCOS machines or the new OMR units. So the Comelec certainly is looking at possibility of acquiring them in the future. On the other hand, the 70,977 may not be purchased since the commission intends to repair the PCOS machines for the 2019 elections,” he said.
On Thursday, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said that they would lease the OMR machines, by combining the 23,000 and 70,977 units.
As for the old 81,896 PCOS units, the poll body noted the machines would be repaired and upgraded as they intend to use them in the 2019 elections.
“Immediately after the conduct of the 2016 elections and within the same calendar year, the commission shall conduct a public bidding for the maintenance, refurbishment and/or upgrade of the existing PCOS machines for use in the 2019 elections,” the resolution added.
In the 2010 polls, the poll body leased the 81,896 PCOS machines but subsequently purchased them from Smartmatic-TIM before the 2013 polls in the amount of Php 1.8 billion. (PNA)