Companies Submit Bids for Online Voting and Counting System in COMELEC’s 2025 Midterm Polls

Comelec spokesman John Rex Laudiangco. Photo from Comelec
Spread the love

Four Companies Submit Bids for Online Voting and Counting System (OVCS)

Four companies have recently submitted their respective bids for the Online Voting and Counting System (OVCS), which will be used by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for the first time in the online voting of overseas Filipinos in the 2025 midterm polls. The COMELEC’s Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) conducted the second round of bidding, now with four bidders, doubling the number from the first round.
The four firms that submitted their bids are:
1. Indra Soluciones Tecnológicas de la Información S.L.U.
2. The joint venture of SMS Global Technologies Inc. and Sequent Tech Inc.
3. The joint venture of Voatz Inc., ePLDT Inc., and eBizolution Inc.
4. The joint venture of AMA Group, Dasan, and KEVoting.
Each of these companies brings unique expertise and innovative solutions to the table. Indra Soluciones Tecnológicas de la Información S.L.U. is a renowned global technology solutions provider, known for their advanced systems and secure platforms. The joint venture of SMS Global Technologies Inc. and Sequent Tech Inc. combines the expertise of two leading companies in the field, with a focus on seamless integration and user-friendly interfaces.
Voatz Inc., ePLDT Inc., and eBizolution Inc. have joined forces to offer a comprehensive solution that prioritizes security and accessibility. Voatz Inc. is a pioneer in mobile voting technology, while ePLDT Inc. and eBizolution Inc. bring their extensive experience in cybersecurity and software development to the partnership.
Lastly, the joint venture of AMA Group, Dasan, and KEVoting aims to provide an inclusive and reliable online voting system. AMA Group is a leading education and technology company in the Philippines, while Dasan and KEVoting specialize in advanced infrastructure and voting technology.
The OVCS has an approved budget of P465.8 million for the contract and scope of goods and services. This budget reflects the importance and complexity of developing a robust and secure online voting and counting system. The COMELEC is committed to ensuring the integrity and transparency of the electoral process, especially when it comes to the participation of overseas Filipinos.
The evaluation process for the submitted bids will be rigorous, with a focus on technical capabilities, security measures, and cost-effectiveness. The COMELEC’s SBAC will carefully assess each proposal to determine which company can deliver the most reliable and efficient OVCS for the 2025 midterm polls.
Once the winning bid is selected, the chosen company will work closely with the COMELEC to develop and implement the OVCS. This collaboration will involve extensive testing, training, and coordination to ensure a smooth and successful online voting experience for overseas Filipinos.
The introduction of the OVCS marks a significant milestone in the modernization of the Philippine electoral system. By harnessing the power of technology, the COMELEC aims to enhance accessibility, efficiency, and transparency in the voting process. The successful implementation of the OVCS will not only benefit overseas Filipinos but also serve as a model for future advancements in the country’s electoral infrastructure.

First Round of Bidding and Failure of Bidding

The first round of bidding took place on February 22, but the COMELEC-SBAC declared a “failure of bidding” and deemed the two participating bidders ineligible for their failure to comply with bidding requirements. The two original bidders were Indra Soluciones Tecnológicas de la Información S.L.U. and We Are I.T. Philippines Inc. Out of the six bidders who purchased bidding documents, only Indra and I.T. Philippines submitted their bids. The other four bidders were SMS Global Technologies Inc., Sequent Technologies Inc., Prosoft Global Pte. Ltd., and SMMT-TIM 2016 Inc.
The COMELEC-SBAC, responsible for overseeing the bidding process, had set strict guidelines and requirements to ensure a fair and transparent bidding process. These guidelines were put in place to ensure that only qualified and capable companies would be considered for the project. However, both Indra and I.T. Philippines failed to meet these requirements, leading to the failure of the first round of bidding.
Indra Soluciones Tecnológicas de la Información S.L.U., a renowned technology company with a strong international presence, had initially shown great interest in the project. They had conducted extensive research and had prepared a detailed proposal that showcased their expertise in implementing large-scale technological solutions. However, upon closer examination of their bid, it was discovered that they had failed to include certain mandatory documents, such as their financial statements for the past three years. This omission raised concerns about their financial stability and ability to fulfill the project requirements.
On the other hand, We Are I.T. Philippines Inc., a local IT solutions provider, also fell short in meeting the bidding requirements. Despite their experience in handling similar projects in the past, their bid lacked crucial details, such as a comprehensive project timeline and a detailed breakdown of costs. These omissions raised doubts about their ability to effectively manage and deliver the project within the specified timeframe and budget.
The failure of the first round of bidding was a setback for the COMELEC-SBAC, as it meant that none of the submitted bids met the necessary criteria. This forced the committee to reassess their approach and make necessary amendments to the bidding process. It was crucial for the COMELEC-SBAC to ensure that the subsequent rounds of bidding would attract qualified and capable bidders who could successfully execute the project.
In order to address the shortcomings of the first round, the COMELEC-SBAC decided to revise the bidding requirements and provide clearer guidelines to potential bidders. They also extended the bidding period to allow interested companies to thoroughly prepare their proposals and ensure compliance with all the necessary documentation.
The failure of the first round of bidding served as a valuable lesson for both the COMELEC-SBAC and the participating bidders. It highlighted the importance of meticulous preparation and attention to detail when submitting bids for such significant projects. The subsequent rounds of bidding would prove crucial in determining the fate of the project and the selection of a qualified bidder who could successfully implement the required technological solutions for the COMELEC.

Authority of the Commission to Tap Other Modes of Voting

The authority of the Commission to tap other modes of voting is based on Section 16.11 of Republic Act 9189 and Sections 23 and 28 of RA 10580. This allows the Commission to explore alternative voting methods to ensure the participation of overseas Filipinos in the electoral process.
In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, the Commission recognizes the need to adapt and embrace technological advancements to facilitate a more inclusive and accessible electoral system. The traditional method of voting, where overseas Filipinos have to physically go to embassies or consulates to cast their votes, can be challenging and may deter many from exercising their right to suffrage.
To address this issue, the Commission has been actively exploring various alternative voting methods that leverage technology to make the voting process more convenient and efficient for overseas Filipinos. One such method is the use of online voting platforms, which would allow Filipinos abroad to cast their votes securely and conveniently from the comfort of their own homes.
The Commission understands the importance of ensuring the integrity and security of the electoral process, especially when it comes to online voting. Therefore, stringent measures would be put in place to verify the identity of voters and protect their privacy. Robust encryption protocols and multi-factor authentication would be employed to safeguard the integrity of the voting system and prevent any unauthorized access or tampering.
Furthermore, the Commission recognizes that not all overseas Filipinos may have access to reliable internet connections or the necessary technological devices to participate in online voting. To address this concern, the Commission is also exploring the possibility of implementing mobile voting solutions, where voters can cast their ballots using their smartphones or other mobile devices. This would provide a more accessible option for those who may not have access to traditional voting methods or the internet.
In addition to online and mobile voting, the Commission is also considering the use of postal voting for overseas Filipinos. This method would allow voters to receive their ballots through mail and return them via postal services. While postal voting may not be as technologically advanced as online or mobile voting, it still provides a viable alternative for those who prefer a more traditional approach.
By tapping into these alternative voting methods, the Commission aims to increase the participation of overseas Filipinos in the electoral process and ensure that their voices are heard. It recognizes the importance of empowering overseas Filipinos to exercise their right to suffrage and actively contribute to shaping the future of their home country.
In conclusion, the authority of the Commission to tap other modes of voting is not only justified by existing laws but also by the need to adapt to the changing needs and preferences of overseas Filipinos. Through the exploration of online voting, mobile voting, and postal voting, the Commission aims to create a more inclusive and accessible electoral system that enables overseas Filipinos to participate in the democratic process.

Online Polls Restricted in Some Countries

However, it should be noted that qualified overseas Filipinos in at least 12 countries will not be able to participate in the internet voting in 2025 due to the restrictions imposed by the host governments. According to records from the Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV), a total of 17 posts, Philippine Embassies (PEs), or Philippine Consulates General (PCGs) are affected. The 12 countries include China, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, Turkey, Russia, Nigeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Libya.
Despite the efforts of the COMELEC to provide online voting options to all overseas Filipinos, there are certain circumstances that prevent its implementation in some countries. The COMELEC recognizes the importance of ensuring that every Filipino has the opportunity to exercise their right to vote, regardless of their location. However, they must also respect the laws and regulations of the host governments.
In countries such as China, Timor-Leste, and Myanmar, where internet access is heavily restricted and monitored, the implementation of online voting would be in direct violation of the host government’s policies. These governments have strict control over internet usage and are wary of any potential threats to their national security. As a result, they have imposed restrictions on online activities, including voting.
Similarly, in countries like Syria, Iran, and Libya, where political instability and conflict are prevalent, it would be impractical and unsafe to conduct online voting. The volatile situation in these countries makes it difficult to ensure the security and integrity of the voting process. In-person voting at the Philippine Embassies or Consulates General, or mail/postal voting, provides a more secure and reliable option for overseas Filipinos in these circumstances.
The COMELEC understands the frustration of overseas Filipinos who are unable to participate in online voting due to these restrictions. They continue to work closely with the host governments to find alternative solutions and explore possibilities for future online voting options. However, they must prioritize the safety and security of all voters, as well as comply with the laws and regulations of the host countries.
In conclusion, while the goal of the COMELEC is to provide online voting options to all overseas Filipinos, there are limitations and challenges that prevent its implementation in certain countries. The 12 countries with internet restrictions, including China, Timor-Leste, and Syria, will still be able to participate in the overseas voting process through in-person voting or mail/postal voting. The COMELEC remains committed to ensuring that every Filipino has the opportunity to exercise their right to vote, regardless of their location, and will continue to explore ways to expand online voting options in the future. The implementation of internet voting for overseas Filipinos in 2025 is a significant step towards modernizing the electoral process and increasing voter turnout among overseas Filipinos. The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) recognizes the importance of ensuring the participation of all eligible voters, even those residing outside the country.
The decision to introduce online voting through the Online Voting and Counting System (OVCS) is driven by the aim to address the challenges faced by overseas Filipino voters, such as limited access to physical polling stations and the high cost of mail-in ballots. By allowing overseas Filipinos to cast their votes electronically, the COMELEC hopes to encourage greater participation and make the overseas absentee voting process more convenient and accessible.
However, the implementation of internet voting does come with its own set of challenges. Internet restrictions in some countries may pose obstacles to the smooth operation of the OVCS. The COMELEC acknowledges these challenges and is committed to finding alternative voting methods to ensure that all eligible overseas voters have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
The introduction of internet voting is also expected to streamline the overseas absentee voting process. Currently, overseas voters can cast their ballots either by mail or in person at Philippine posts, embassies, and consulates. While this system has been in place for many years, it has proven to be costly and has resulted in relatively low voter turnout. The COMELEC recognizes the need for a more efficient and cost-effective method of voting for overseas Filipinos.
By implementing internet voting, the COMELEC aims to increase voter turnout among overseas Filipinos and reduce the cost of the overseas voting process. The 2022 presidential elections saw a voter turnout of only 39 percent among registered overseas Filipino voters, which was significantly lower than in previous elections. The COMELEC hopes that by providing a more accessible and convenient voting method, more overseas Filipinos will be encouraged to participate in future elections.
In conclusion, the submission of bids for the Online Voting and Counting System is a significant milestone in the COMELEC’s efforts to modernize the electoral process for overseas Filipinos. While challenges such as internet restrictions exist, the COMELEC remains committed to finding alternative voting methods to ensure the participation of all eligible voters. The implementation of internet voting in 2025 is expected to increase voter turnout among overseas Filipinos and streamline the overseas absentee voting process, ultimately strengthening the democratic process in the Philippines.

Source: The Manila Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *