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Poll reform consortium says Comelec running out of time

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Time is running out.

The Consortium on Electoral Reforms (CER) yesterday expressed concern over the timeline of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), saying the poll body should not dilly-dally in choosing the voting system for use in the 2016 elections.

“The civil society is now worried. The Comelec is now running out of time so if they think the fastest way is to lease new machines… do it now,” said CER executive director Ramon Casiple in a chance interview.

The consortium is composed of 48 organizations.

On Aug. 1, Comelec’s preparations for the coming polls hit another snag after the second bidding for the P3.13-billion contract to refurbish precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines failed. Two bidders backed out, while a third was declared ineligible.

The bidders said it would be difficult to refurbish the machines as the elections are just nine months away.

“If we compare with the preparations in 2010, the Comelec is still on schedule. But it already lost its buffer time because of (this development),” said Casiple, who was a member of the Comelec Advisory Committee (CAC) which recommended the use of PCOS machines in 2010.

Casiple added that CER is opposed to the hybrid voting system because it is the same as the manual system.

“Definitely we are for full automation. (A hybrid voting system) will take twice as long and twice as difficult. Hybrid is essentially manual,” he said.

The Comelec is expected to decide this week which voting system will be used in next year’s polls. The options are to use either the 81,897 refurbished PCOS machines or the brand new 70,977 leased optical mark reader machines, alongside 23,000 OMR machines leased from Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp.

Another option, which was recommended by the current CAC, is to use parts of the refurbished PCOS machines with parts of OMR machines.

ACIRC CASIPLE COMELEC COMELEC ADVISORY COMMITTEE ELECTORAL REFORMS MACHINES ON AUG PCOS RAMON CASIPLE SMARTMATIC-TOTAL INFORMATION MANAGEMENT CORP SYSTEM
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