THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is likely to ditch the 82,000 old precinct court optical scan (PCOS) machines and instead use brand new units that will cost the government more than P8 billion, the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Election System (JCOC-AES) learned Thursday.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, chairman of the JCOC-AES, explained that based on the statements of Comelec officials during the panel hearing, the poll body may resort to using the PCOS technology in next year’s national polling.
He said because the poll body is already pressed for time, it has to choose an option that is readily available in order to start the necessary preparations for the electoral exercise in 2016.
“I’m not speaking on behalf of the Comelec, but based from what I’ve heard, I think the Comelec is going towards that direction,” Pimentel said.
The senator was referring to the poll body’s plan to procure and lease new PCOS units instead of using the 82,000 PCOS machines which the government purchased from Smartmatic-TIM for P1.8 billion.
The Comelec recently decided to award the P1.7 billion contract for the supply of 23,000 new PCOS machines for use in the 2016 elections to Smartmatic.
Aside from the 23,000 brand new machines, the commission is also planning to lease 70,000 brand new optical mark reader (OMR) machines that will cost P6.29 billion.
If the plan pushes through, the Comelec will be virtually junking the 82,000 PCOS machines used during the 2010 and 2013 national elections.
The option to use the old machines may no longer be feasible since the Comelec has declared the bidding for the refurbishment of these machines a failure.
But with less than eight months before the 2016 national and local elections, Pimentel said holding another bidding to refurbish the old machines may no longer be practical.
The senator added that while he has some questions regarding the possible ditching of the old PCOS machines, he will allow the Comelec to attend to more pressing issues to ensure that the automated elections next year will be successful.