‘Delay in Comelec project could scare investors’
- Efren Danao () - June 29, 2001 - 12:00am
Newly re-elected Sen. Juan Flavier warned yesterday that delay in the computerization program of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) could scare away foreign investors and adversely affect the 2004 presidential elections.

This developed as the poll body insisted that the notice of award to the Photokina consortium that won the bid for the P1.2-billion Voter’s Registration and Identification System (VRIS), may be cancelled anytime without liability on their part since no contract was entered into.

Flavier said he would file a resolution in the upcoming Congress to investigate the deferred enforcement of the computerization project and the surrounding circumstances that led to the delay.

"We have to clarify the problems right now or else there would be bigger problems in the next elections. We should now do our very best and move forward to resolve the present impasse," he explained.

Flavier’s warning came after Comelec had suspended the implementation of its contract with the Photokina consortium for the acquisition of computers and counting machines for its modernization program.

The Photokina consortium is made up of Photokina Marketing Corp., Polaroid, Unisys, Headstrong, US-based IBM, and the French security company Sagem.

He said that the deferment of the project after a contract has been signed would create a bad image for the country before the international business community.

"Hindi naman puwedeng napirmahan mo na ang kontrata, tapos ayaw mong ituloy (It is not acceptable for one to sign a contract, and then refuse to implement it)," Flavier stressed.

He warned that foreign investors would be scared to come into the country if the computerization project is not implemented soon.

He pointed out that the Photokina consortium went through the legal process of public bidding and had already signed a contract with the Comelec.

Foreign partners of the Photokina consortium had warned that the international business community might entertain second thoughts on doing business with the Philippine government if the Comelec continues to disregard a bid "that went through a very legal process."

Flavier added that aside from alarming foreign investors, delay in the computerization project would also adversely affect the upcoming 2004 presidential elections.

He explained that the cleansing of the voters’ list and the use of counting machines during the canvassing of votes would result in a more credible election.

Comelec Commissioner Resurreccion Borra said yesterday that under the law, they can revoke an award notice that is not favorable to the poll body or one that the government cannot fund.

"There is no contract yet so the award can be cancelled anytime," Borra stressed.

The consortium was awarded the project last year following one of the most exhaustive and highly technical bidding procedures ever conducted by the Comelec. It bested the field by garnering the highest technical score and submitting the lowest price, outbidding its closest rival by more than P500 million.

However, former Comelec chairwoman Harriet Demetriou, prior to the end of her term in January, cancelled the project, claiming anomaly in the bidding process.

Borra explained that Demetriou cancelled the contract after a proposed contract incorporated an additional P700 million, which was beyond the financial capacity of the poll body.

"As a result, the contract that was supposed to be signed by the Comelec and Photokina was nullified by then Chairman Demetriou," he said. – With Pia Lee-Brago

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