THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has given its go signal to use some 5,000 to 10,000 units of the original 82,000 old Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) counting machines to supplement the 93,997 units of brand new Optical Mark Reader (OMR) for use in the 2016 elections.
Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, co-chair of Task Force PCOS, disclosed on Tuesday that as per Comelec approval, the several thousands of PCOS machines would be used primarily for local absentee voting and persons with disability.
She said that the PCOS would be used for voting and tabulation of votes of the intended beneficiaries but the tabulated results would be manually uploaded to the canvassing level.
“We still don’t understand how the transmission will work with old machines and this new machines [that’s why we will manually upload the tabulated results,” Guazon explained.
According to Guazon, the poll body would hire 400 to 500 workers to do the cleaning with the assistance of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
“Out of the 82,000 PCOS, we’ll clean one-third and see which of them are working. The films, rollers and batteries that are working, we will transfer to other machines,” Guazon said, adding, “We are happy that the DOS is providing us with technical support.
Guanzon, an Ilonggo, said that the Comelec is resorting to “desponering,” referring to the Spanish word ‘desponer’, a word Ilonggos have adopted into their dialect, which means to find a way to make it work.
She said the DOST would also help in the local sourcing of the basic parts of PCOS like the battery, roller and film with the actual works on the machines to be done in the Comelec’s warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna.
Guanzon further clarified that once the materials needed became available, the workers would be able to clean at least 5,000 machines in three weeks.
PCOS vendor, Smartmatic Corp., previously said it was willing to give the Comelec people free training as part of the warranty of the 82,000 PCOS machines, but with a warning that the use of replacement instead of original parts could result to malfunctions.
The PCOS machines were used during the 2010 and 2013 polls. The Comelec leased them from Smartmatic in 2009 at a cost of P7.19 billion. In 2010, the poll body exercised its option to purchase the machines at an additional cost of P2.13 billion.
But Guanzon did not buy Smartmatic’s argument saying, “PCOS is a scanning machine, there is no science fiction mystery to a PCOS.”
“They do have a warranty under their contract with us. That’s in the warranty but if they don’t, we have the DOST,” she clarified.
Guanzon said the Comelec does not need to conduct a bidding for the cleaning of the PCOS, and that under the Commission on Audit (COA) rules, any project below P500,000 does not require a bidding process.