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Indelible ink for May 13 polls will meet standards - Comelec

Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Tuesday assured that the indelible ink it will procure for the May 13 polls will pass the standards amid allegations that the ink submitted by the lowest bidder is easily removed. “May requirements na may specification sa bid documents, dapat sumunod dun,” Brillantes told reporters. The Comelec, according to its bidding documents, requires the indelible ink to contain a least 7 percent silver nitrate with commassie blue or blue dye. It should not be removable from the nail, cuticle and first joint of the finger by solvents such as ethyl alcohol, benzene, gasoline, soap, oxalic acid, 95% bleaching solvent, acetone, lacquer thinner, brake fluid, ascorbic acid, water and kerosene. But, Gene Arbatin, chief operating officer of ASA Color which submitted the second lowest bid of P73 million, alleged that the ink submitted by the lowest bidder faded when subjected to different solvents.   “First test, nabura sa tubig; second test, nabura sa acetone; third test, nabura sa ethyl alcohol,” revealed Arbatin. The lowest bid of P68 million was submitted by a joint venture between Centurian and Jedaric Chemicals. The poll body is looking for a supplier of 520,000 bottles of indelible ink which will be used to mark the finger of those who have already cast their vote. The testing of the indelible ink or post qualification proceedings was conducted by the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Comelec Bids and Awards committee (BAC) Tuesday morning. The testing was not open to media coverage. The BAC refused to comment on the result of the testing but said the TWG will submit its findings to the committee. Upon the submission, the BAC will evaluate the report and submit a recommendation to the Comelec en banc. If the en banc disqualifies the lowest bidder, the second lowest bidder's ink will go through the post qualification proceedings. 'Hindi pa kami naka-award' Brillantes said since they have yet to award the contract, they can always go to the second lowest bidder. “Hindi pa kami naka-award, eligibility pa lang pinag-uusapan namin dito, post qualification pa lang naman ito, kung hindi mag-qualify (yung lowest bidder) may second lowest bidder where we can go to,” he said. The Comelec chief said that failure to comply with the requirements could lead to the disqualification of the bidder. Brillantes said the indelible ink testing is not yet an issue as it is not directly related to the automated elections. “This is not one of the items that we are worried about. Not too much… We'll finish all, practically those related to automation. Indelible ink is pwede na sa end part eh,” he said. Arbatin said Centurion and Jadaric should not have been qualified to bid in the first place because their line of business is printing rather than chemical. In contrast, his company’s main business is ink. They were even awarded a contract by the Comelec for  360,000 bottles of indelible ink, used during the October 2010 barangay elections. Arbatin reiterated that the their 2012 indelible ink contract with the Comelec was not overpriced as alleged by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano during a Senate hearing. “The price at the Alibaba website was a default price of $1 because we did not put any amount. For 2013, I still have the same price as that of 2010 despite of the increase in the price of silver nitrate,” Arbatin argued. — DVM, GMA News