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Comelec to dispose of used VCMs, PCOS

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star
Comelec to dispose of used VCMs, PCOS
“We cannot use those (machines) anymore. We are inviting government agencies such as the Department of Education, Professional Regulation Commission and other offices to see if these machines will serve their purpose,” Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia said in an interview on Friday.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections is asking interested government agencies to see if they can use close to 180,000 precinct count optical scanners (PCOS) and vote counting machines (VCMs) that the Comelec is set to give up.

“We cannot use those (machines) anymore. We are inviting government agencies such as the Department of Education, Professional Regulation Commission and other offices to see if these machines will serve their purpose,” Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia said in an interview on Friday.

Garcia was referring to the 80,000 PCOS machines and the 97,000 VCMs that are stored in the Comelec’s warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

The PCOS were used in the 2010 and 2013 elections and the VCMs in 2016, 2019 and 2022.

“Your information technology personnel may have an idea on what to do with these machines, like how these can still be useful (to teachers) in checking examination papers and other ways these may be of service,” Garcia said.

He said it would be difficult for the Comelec to dispose of the machines aside from the fact that it is paying storage fees for these.

Garcia said it would be risky for the poll body to reuse the machines in future elections.

“It will be dangerous to use these as during the recent barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in Dasmariñas, Cavite and Barangay Pasong Tamo in Quezon City, some of these machines malfunctioned,” he said. “Some machines jammed, others overheated. Some did not work at all.”

This developed as the Comelec’s transition to a new automated poll system is under way.

A brand new system, the fully automated system with transparency audit and count  or FASTrAC will be used for the 2025 elections.

The Comelec said that so far, only Smartmatic Philippines-TIM Inc., Pivot International and Miru Systems Co. Ltd. have expressed interest in the P18.8-billion project.

Garcia is hoping that more than five companies will submit bids on Nov. 28 for the FASTrAC project.

SK exec quits over vote buying

Meanwhile, an official of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) federation in Jagna, Bohol resigned over issues of vote buying.

Rizaldy Villaflores quit as SK municipal federation vice president-elect of Jagna. He submitted his resignation letter on Nov. 16 to Noel Galia, SK federation president-elect.

He said a message from Tagbilaran Bishop Alberto Uy made him resign from the post.

“When integrity in leadership is missing, it can have severe consequences for individuals and society as a whole. Without integrity, leaders may engage in unethical behaviors such as lying, cheating and taking advantage of others for personal gain,” the bishop’s message read.

Villaflores reportedly admitted that he violated the values that the Parish Pastoral Youth Ministry, in which he is a member, are promoting, and the law on vote buying.

“It is with regret that I was tempted to violate these values when I participated in vote buying and other unlawful acts during the SK federation election period,” he said.

Villaflores said he was “kidnapped” and brought to Tagbilaran before the SK federation polls was conducted, and that he was given P5,000. He did not say whether he was with other SK leaders or who “kidnapped” him or them.

The Sangguniang Bayan of Jagna is waiting for the action of the Department of the Interior and Local Government on the position left vacant by Villaflores. — Ric Obedencio

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