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Solons for new machines, not PCOS, for 2016 polls

The Commission on Elections should use new machines – not the PCOS machines used in previous polls — for the next presidential polls to ensure that it is fraud-free, opposition and administration lawmakers agreed yesterday in reaction to  Comelec’s announcement that it plans to use a mixed automated election system (AES) in 2016, combining the use  of  the old PCOS machines with a second voting technology.

Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo, and Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz  said Comelec must erase people’s doubts about the elections  by using entirely new machines for the 2016 polls.

“Dapat all new machines ‘yan, para walang doubt ang mga tao,” Tiangco, spokesman and secretary general of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said.

Quimbo agreed with Tiangco, saying that  “the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines are not compliant with the law.” He added: “We need a new system. We still have time but the window to come up with a new voting system is fast closing.”

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, and  Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez also rejected the Comelec’s use of a mixed automated election system for the 2016 polls.

“Will the AES answer the poll fraud allegations during elections? The Comelec should consult the people to erase their doubts and make an extensive explanation,” Romualdez, who heads the House independent minority bloc, said.

“While technological advancement or the computerization of our electoral system has hastened the counting and canvassing of the votes, we should ensure that it is fraud-proof or error-free because serious allegations of inaccuracy or cheating may result in chaos and destroy our democratic process,” Romualdez said.

Benitez, a leader of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), asked the poll body to  make certain that the 2016 national election is clean and honest. “Any doubt in the system will give rise to possible chaos and questions on the outcome,” he said.

The Comelec en banc had approved the recommendation of the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) that multiple or mixed technologies be used for the 2016 elections. It decided that the PCOS machines and a second voting technology–the Optical Mark Reader (OMR) system and the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) – will be used in 2016.


Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes said yesterday it will conduct a pilot testing of new automatic technology systems, such as the Direct Recording Electronic, and Internet voting, to prepare for their possible use in future elections.

“This is in anticipation of the next elections… let’s say 2019 or 2022 elections,” he said in an interview.

Brillantes said they are planning to pilot-test the DRE, which uses touch-screen technology, in highly urbanized areas such as in Metro Manila, Metro Davao, and Metro Cebu.

For Internet voting, Brillantes said they are planning to test this in countries with migrants living far from Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) centers and for Filipino seafarers.

Brillantes disclosed the decision of the Comelec en banc to adopt the recommendation of its Advisory Council to use mixed voting technology for the 2016 polls. “They said we use the OMR (Optical Mark Reader) and in using the OMR, you can still use the existing, which is the Precinct Count Optical Scan) machines,” he said.

“Therefore, since we are adopting its recommendation, we will be using the OMR PCOS and then we will buy or lease additional OMR but make sure that the additional will be compatible with the CCS (Consolidated Canvassing System),”

Brillantes said that the additional OMR machines will not necessarily come from the previous PCOS provider, Smartmatic International, although it can still join the public bidding.

One important portion of the resolution, he said, is the part regarding the biometrics technology for voter verification and authentication which they will seek to use in about one-third of the polling precincts nationwide.

“With this system, there is no more need to look at the voters’ lists. You just place your fingers for you to be identified as a voter. This will partially solve the queuing problem and eliminate flying voters,” said Brillantes.

The Comelec plans to start the bidding for all the new AES for use in  2016 by middle of September.