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NPO, suppliers face election probe

Hananeel Bordey

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Several questionable deals had been uncovered, particularly after causing delays during the start of the midterm elections, as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it will withhold P1.4 billion worth of payables to suppliers including the state-owned National Printing Office (NPO) over defective election paraphernalia.

The NPO will be probed for subcontracting the printing of voter information sheets in violation of Commission on Audit (CoA) rules, Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said.

“Since it was a government-to-government deal, there was no auction. Then I learned that they subcontracted the job to the Holy Family Printing Press. That’s against CoA rules and they should be answerable for that,” Guanzon added.

The commissioner said deals with Nextix Inc., the supplier of the Voters’ Registration Verification Machines (VRVM); Triplex that provided defective marking pens; and the joint venture of S1 Technologies and Silicon Valley Computer Group for the secured digital (SD) cards as those to be subjected to a probe.

The contract for the supply of VRVM totaled P987.1 million; P153.8 million for the marking pens; and P22.6 million for the supply of SD cards. She revealed the Comelec is reviewing all dubious contracts.

Guanzon said the printed voter information sheets contained errors.

“It could have confused the voters. It could have resulted in a failure of elections. It was good that we acted quickly and the Comelec en banc ordered the voter information sheets not to be distributed,” she said.

“NPO should be asked, because they are accountable for this. Comelec was charged P4 per voter information sheet with too small prints,” she added.

Over a thousand SD cards failed during the elections and the Comelec plans to withhold payments for these.

Following the glitches and delays encountered during the elections due to defective SD cards, Guanzon said the supplier of the SD cards should not be paid in full.

“We will not pay the supplier of the SD cards in full. I will review the bidding process and the delivery process of the cards, because I think that’s the real culprit,” Guanzon explained.

According to the poll official, some commissioners suggested payments for only those used during the elections. Comelec’s contract with S1 Technologies was worth P22.6 million.

The poll body reported 1,665 corrupted SD cards or 1.9 percent of the 85,769 SD cards used. The poll body said that the SD cards were of poor quality.

File SoCE

Comelec reminded all candidates to submit a full report of their statement of contribution and expenditure (SoCE) 30 days from election day.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez emphasized candidates will face consequences If they fail to submit a report.

“To our candidates, we are reminding you that whether you won or lost (the elections), you need to submit your statement of contribution and expenditure within 30 days from the end of the elections,” Jimenez said.

He said candidates have until 13 June to submit the documents and, failing to do so, they will have problems assuming office.

He added they will work with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to impose penalties on those who will not follow Comelec rules.

“We will consult with the DILG to impose consequences and they will not be able to assume their elected positions,” Jimenez said.

Last 28 February 2019, Comelec Resolution 10505 promulgated a rule which stated, “No elected candidate shall enter upon the duties of office until he has filed his SoCE.”

They said the winning candidates will be given six months to comply with the Comelec requirements.

“The office of an elected candidate who fails to file his SoCE shall be considered vacant pursuant to section 11 of the Omnibus Election Code until it has complied and submitted the bet’s SoCE within six months from proclamation,” the Comelec added.

With Raymart T. Lolo