SENATOR Aquilino Pimentel 3rd believes that the local and national elections next year will be more transparent even if the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will still use Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in addition to Optical Mark Reader (OMR) machines.
In an interview after the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the proposed 2016 budget of the Comelec, Pimentel said that aside from the use of brand new PCOS machines, the poll body also promised to have the source code open for its early review.
“We will have sufficient time for review of the source code unlike before when the source code was opened just weeks before the 2013 mid-term elections,” Pimentel told reporters.
The source code is the human readable instructions that define what the computer will do.
Under the Automated Elections System law the Comelec, once an auto¬mated election system (AES) technology is selected for implementation, the commission shall prompt¬ly make the source code of that technology available and open to any interested political party or groups that may conduct their own review.
The Comelec, during the 2013 midterm elections, was heavily criticized for its failure to make the source code available to interested political parties on time.
“I think the Comelec is prepared because basically they are getting new machines and a new system,” Pimentel said.
The source codes will be for the more than 90,000 brand new OMR machines.
Meanwhile, the Comelec said it aims to increase the number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who will participate in next year’s polls.
The poll body is targeting to register 300,000 absentee voters by introducing more convenient ways to register and vote. For easy registration, the Comelec introduced the Online Voters’ Registration for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) or the iRehistro. Through this program, OFWs can fill out voters’ registration forms in their homes, workplaces, or internet cafes at their convenience.
On election day, OFWs have two options to cast their votes—by personal appearance in embassies or through postal voting.
“We plan to invite presidentiables to come out in open introduce their governance platform for OFWs and give it widest dissemination possible. See whether their own interest in OFW vote will generate higher turnout,” said Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim.
Of the P15.6 billion proposed budget for the Comelec for 2016, around P200 million will be used for its overseas absentee voting program.
In 2013, only 113,209 out of 737,759 registered OFW voters participated in the polls.