Is there “SOP” for poll automation contract?
VOL. XVIII NO. 3 (October 25-31, 2014)
LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near…” (Isaiah 55:6, the Holy Bible).
HOW MUCH DOES RP NEED TO AUTOMATE ELECTIONS IN 2016? Gus Lagman, the former commissioner of the Commission on Elections, is echoing a question coming from the TransparentElections.org.ph, which Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. and its other present commissioners must answer.
The question: why is the Commission desirous of paying some P18 billion for an automated election system that is dependent on the already-discredited precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to be used for 2016 when there is a similar system, or which maybe even much better, for the price of only P5 billion?
And while we are on the issue of asking questions about the use of PCOS for the 2016 presidential elections, I might as well repeat here another query from Lagman: why is the Comelec hurrying to approve the P18 billion PCOS 2016 contract before Brillantes and Commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph will retire on February 02, 2015?
IS THERE “SOP” IN POLL AUTOMATION CONTRACT? We can guess as much as we want on the probable correct answers to these questions, and maybe Brillantes and his gang would not even care to explain, since they are entitled not to explain. But then, people are now starting to make irrepressible deductions or predictions about profits which unrighteous men and women could possibly make with a contract which fetches the price of about P18 billion.
Surely, Filipinos are aware, and have been talking about it, that for any government contract to be awarded to private businessmen in times past, there had always been what was known as the “SOP” which had to be given to the heads and other officers of agencies which will award the contract. In olden times, “SOP” meant “standard operating procedure”, but in our country, it simply meant grease money.
Formerly, the amount given as “SOP” was pegged at 10% of the contract price. But, as the Philippines moved on in its history as a nation, there have been reports that government contracts now carry as much as 40% “SOP”. I am not saying that there is an “SOP” for the Comelec P18 billion contract now, but certainly, if there is, the amount could range between P1.8 billion to P7.2 billion, which is big enough even for a presidential campaign.
IT GROUP CAN AUTOMATE ELECTIONS FOR ONLY P3B? Lagman gave to Comelec the letter from TransparentElections.org.ph raising the group’s question about Comelec wanting to spend P18 billion for an automated election system which could be had for only P5 billion. In that letter, the group also wondered aloud why it was barred from presenting the P5 billion system which would do away with the supposed cheating with PCOS machines.
The group asked: “Why does the Comelec want to spend P18 billion on PCOS which only shortens the election process by half-a-day, yet removes the transparency in precinct-counting and seriously impairs the protest process? Certainly, the Comelec knows that it is the automation of canvassing that shortens the process by some five weeks or so.”
For whatever it is worth, I would like to put on record that I also know of a group which can be tapped to put up an automated election system that would ensure an honest, open. and transparent election, which can cost only as much as P3 billion. If Comelec is interested, I can ask that group to make its own presentation. But then, Comelec has already made a decision on this, isn’t it so, Chairman?