Going manual in the 2016 local and national elections is no longer an option, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) partly because time is not on its side.
The poll body cited a recent Supreme Court (SC) decision that voided a P268-million contract for the diagnostics, repair and refurbishment of 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.
Comelec spokesman and Director James Arthur Jimenez on Friday said the decision not to conduct manual elections was arrived at during the commission en banc, three-hour emergency meeting on Wednesday, narrowing down the solution to the problem brought about by the SC decision to only two options, which are both compliant with the intent of Republic Act (RA) 9369.
RA 9369, however, mandates and authorizes the Comelec to use an automated elections system in all national and local electoral exercises.
“Specifically, the [commission]en banc said it is determined to automate the elections. Manual elections [are]not considered now,” Jimenez said.
According to Jimenez, the Comelec is considering the possibility of bidding out the voided P268-million refurbishment contract it awarded through negotiated bidding to technology provider Smartmatic-TIM Corp. or call for a bidding for the supply of additional 63,000 new Optical Mark Reader (OMR) counting machines.
Without the 82,00 Smartmatic-supplied PCOS machines, the poll body is banking only on 23,000 OMR machines under a contract worth P2.503 billion that was also won by Smartmatic.
The P2.503-billion contract, however, is yet to be awarded to Smartmatic pending completion of a post-qualification evaluation, a formality.