Comelec uncertain if PCOS machines can be used in 2016 polls
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - February 4, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - After buying the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines for P1.8 billion, it remains uncertain if the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will utilize them in the 2016 presidential polls.

In an interview, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said they are waiting for the recommendation of the inter-agency Comelec Advisory Council that is evaluating the machines.

“We have no deadline for them but they had their last meeting (the other) week. So maybe (soon) they will come up with a recommendation,” he noted.

Jimenez claimed the Comelec is also doing its own review of the PCOS machines but under the law, the “CAC has the responsibility to come up with the review of 2013 and to recommend for 2016” elections.

He said the Comelec’s foremost concern is the condition of the machines’ hardware since they have already been used in the 2010 and 2013 elections.

“What we are trying to do now is see if the machines are still in good condition. It is only realistic for them to suffer from wear and tear, which might necessitate the replacement of parts or, in some cases, replacement of entire units. Will the hardware be good enough for 2016? That is the question,” he added.

He, however, assured the public that the PCOS system was the best technology when it was chosen by the Comelec for the first automation of the country’s elections in 2010.

The poll body had then leased some 82,000 machines from Smartmatic International Corp. for P7.2 billion.

For the 2013 election, the Comelec had purchased the machines for P1.8 billion due to the limited budget allocated to the agency.

Jimenez said that technology-wise, the optical mark reader feature of the PCOS machines was the best choice for the Comelec.

“With regard to the software, the concept of having paper ballots being read digitally with the digital results being consolidated in order to come up with the voting results, we have no problem with that. It was a good decision,” he added.

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