Philippines' Comelec Delays Awarding Contract for 2025 Overseas Online Voting System

The Philippines' Commission on Elections (Comelec) delays awarding a P465 million contract for an online voting and counting system due to controversy over the bidding process. Two joint venture companies, AMA Group Holdings Corp. and SMSGT Technologies, undergo post-qualification evaluation amidst concerns over their bids.

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Nitish Verma
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Philippines' Comelec Delays Awarding Contract for 2025 Overseas Online Voting System

Philippines' Comelec Delays Awarding Contract for 2025 Overseas Online Voting System

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the Philippines has delayed awarding a P465 million contract for the online voting and counting system (OVCS) for overseas voting in the May 2025 midterm elections. The decision comes as two joint venture companies, AMA Group Holdings Corp., Dasan Network Solutions Inc., and Kevoting Inc., and SMSGT Technologies and Sequent Technologies Joint Venture, undergo post-qualification evaluation amidst controversy over the bidding process.

Why this matters: The integrity of the electoral process is at stake, and the delay in awarding the contract could impact the credibility of the 2025 midterm elections. Furthermore, the controversy surrounding the bidding process highlights the need for transparency and accountability in government contracts, which has broader implications for democratic governance.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia stated, "The two joint venture companies that pre-qualified are still undergoing post-qualification (evaluation) by the technical working group." The AMA-Dasan-Kevoting joint venture was previously declared "ineligible" by the Comelec on April 4 but has sought reconsideration twice, citing concerns over the low bid of P112 million by the SMSGT-Sequent joint venture.

The SMSGT-Sequent joint venture's bid represents only 25% of the estimated project cost, raising questions about its capacity to handle the 2025 overseas voting system. The AMA-Dasan-Kevoting joint venture has also raised concerns about the SMSGT-Sequent joint venture's lack of ISO 14001 certification and insufficient credentials to prove its internet voting system was successfully used in an electoral exercise.

Garcia further explained, "The Comelec en banc did not reconsider the second motion because the joint refused to pay the P2.3 million non-refundable protest fee, which was 5 percent of the project cost." The AMA-Dasan-Kevoting joint venture initially sought reconsideration before the Comelec en banc on April 12 after being declared ineligible by the Comelec's special bid and awards committee – automated election system (SBAC-AES).

The ongoing post-qualification evaluation and controversy surrounding the bidding process have led to the delay in awarding the contract for the OVCS project. The Comelec aims to ensure a fair and transparent process in selecting the joint venture that will handle the online voting and counting system for overseas Filipinos in the upcoming 2025 midterm elections. As the evaluation continues, the Comelec remains committed to upholding the integrity of the electoral process and providing an efficient and reliable voting system for Filipinos abroad.

Key Takeaways

  • Philippines' Comelec delays awarding P465 million contract for online voting and counting system due to controversy.
  • Two joint venture companies undergo post-qualification evaluation amidst bidding process concerns.
  • SMSGT-Sequent joint venture's low bid of P112 million raises capacity and credibility concerns.
  • AMA-Dasan-Kevoting joint venture seeks reconsideration, citing concerns over SMSGT-Sequent's bid.
  • Comelec aims to ensure fair and transparent process in selecting online voting system provider.