Press Release
March 19, 2010

Undersized companies to deliver PCOS

What are the criteria used by Smartmatic in choosing the 3 cargo forwarders tasked to deliver and retrieve all 82, 000 counting machines which will be used in the May polls?

Senator Chiz Escudero wants to know to determine the capacity and capability of Germalin Enterprises Inc., Argo International Forwarders Inc., and Ace Logistics Inc., three unknown companies tasked to handle the critical transport stage in the conduct of the country's first automated poll.

Based on the 2008 domestic cargo traffic flow statistics from the Civil Aviation Board (CAB), Argo Int'l. placed 11th place with a total market share of .42%.

Germalin Int'l. is at 12th place with .35% market share while no data is available for Ace Logistics as the CAB only listed the top 30 companies.

"Data is for actual chargeable weight in freight handled by each company. If these companies do not even get a single digit market share in the business, how can we expect them to deliver 82, 000 machines all over the archipelago without hitches?"

Escudero, chairman of the Joint Oversight Committee on Poll Automation added that based on the latest financial reports of the companies with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the three do not comfortably show fiscal viabilities and enough manpower required of this big project.

Germalin, which is to service the entire National Capital Region reported an P8.6 million total available cash at their disposal for CY 2006 while Argo, which is to service Visayas and Mindanao has only P570, 490.00 total available cash/cash equivalents for CY 2008. Ace Logistics, which is in-charge of the Luzon area has a P670, 475.00 cash at their disposal for CY 2008.

"The financial capacity of any company is pegged at their available cash. No government contract is ever fully pre-paid, hence the doubt about how these undersized companies can fully comply with the required service. They don't have existing ready assets with the contract which is in the hundreds of millions" Escudero said.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has pegged the budget for logistics at P1.66 billion but after Smartmatic was awarded the automated poll contract, it only put the logistics budget at P916 million.

However, repeated inquiries from the Comelec did not yield any answer as to how much is the total contract awarded to the forwarders. Comelec officials said the matter is between Smartmatic and the cargo forwarders, adding that Smartmatic cannot be compelled to divulge the amount contracted because of the confidentiality clause it signed with the forwarders.

"This is government money being handed out to contractors lock, stock and barrel. Not even our electoral body has the supervision and control of these companies if and when it doesn't deliver the services required of them. They are only answerable to Smartmatic. Where does culpability lie now?"

Escudero said cargo forwarders, among other things, should be given equal scrutiny by Comelec and the public and not left in the total control and supervision of Smartmatic which has been evasive of total disclosure of vital information related to the poll automation contract.

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