‘OMR lease P3 B costlier than refurbishment’

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) could have saved P3 billion if it had opted for the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines refurbishment deal with Smartmatic, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said yesterday.

The Comelec last week junked plans to refurbish the old PCOS machines and decided to lease 94,000 election machines it needs to use for next year’s polls.

Macalintal said the total cost of the lease of 94,000 PCOS machines is P10 billion or P106,000 each.

According to Macalintal, the Comelec could have bargained for Smartmatic to refurbish at least half or 42,000 old PCOS machines and deduct these from the 94,000 leased machines or just lease a total of 54,000 new machines.

“Clearly, if Comelec would just refurbish the 42,000 old PCOS instead of leasing 42,000 new OMR (optical mark reader) machines, it would only cost P1.5 billion instead of P4.5 billion. This means a net savings of P3 billion,” Macalintal stressed.

Macalintal said instead of leasing all the election machines to be used in the 2016 elections, Comelec should have opted to re-use and negotiated for the refurbishment and repair of at least half of the old PCOS machines to save money.

While Smartmatic admitted that it is not capable of repairing all the old 82,000 machines due to time constraints, Macalintal said, the multi-national company is well capable of refurbishing 42,000 PCOS machines until February 2016.

Smartmatic could refurbish an average of 7,000 machines per month, which Macalintal said means that it could still repair 42,000 machines until February, the deadline set by the Comelec.

“From September to February, Smartmatic could refurbish 42,000 PCOS machines at a cost of P37,000 each or a total cost of P1.5 billion,” he explained.

When the Supreme Court had not yet voided Comelec’s contract with Smartmatic to refurbish 82,000 old PCOS machines, Macalintal said, Smartmatic had already started with the project.

“It means that as of March 2015 it could finish the refurbishment of 82,000 PCOS machines until February 2016, the deadline set by the Comelec, or a period of 11 months, at an average of 7,000 machines refurbished per month,” he noted.

However, Macalintal said, the Comelec decided to lease one new PCOS machine costing P106,000 or P4.5 billion to lease 42,000 new units.

Smartmatic said it could only refurbish 10,000 of the 82,000 PCOS machines until February 2016, prompting the Comelec to opt for the lease 94,000 PCOS machines due to time constraints.

Macalintal said Smartmatic officials proved to be smarter than the Comelec and held the poll body hostage when it did not participate in the bidding to refurbish the 82,000 PCOS machines on the flimsy ground that the project cannot be completed by next February.

“Thus, the 82,000 PCOS worth P9.7 billion, which Comelec purchased from Smartmatic in 2013 with full assurances that these machines could still be used in the 2016 elections will now join the unused 1,991 Mega Pacific automated counting machines which Comelec purchased from Mega Pacific Consortium (MPC) for P1.2 billion for the 2004 elections,” Macalintal said.

Macalintal said the Comelec would likely continue leasing at least 1,500 PCOS machines after the 2016 polls for the various election protests that usually follow an election in this country.

“These machines will be needed to validate the claims of election losers that they were cheated,” he said.


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