The Commission on Elections (Comelec) chief on Friday revealed that he considers using the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls in October.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said that they are now looking at the possibility of pilot testing the automated election system (AES) but only in a limited number of polling precincts.
“We are also discussing the possibility of the pilot use of PCOS machines in the barangay elections,” the poll chief said.
“Among the areas we are looking to involve is the entire Metro Manila or just one city in Metro Manila, either biggest or smallest city,” he added.
However, Brillantes clarified that the use of AES in Barangay and SK polls is not required by the Poll Automation Law and only applicable to the national and local polls.
“Republic Act 9369 [Poll Automation Law] is not applicable with the barangay [and SK]elections,” he said.
The Comelec head explained that the idea of doing a pilot testing is to maximize the PCOS machines the government acquired from Smartmatic International for P1.8 billion.
“It would be a waste of the PCOS machines that we have bought since they have been paid for [Sayang naman ang mga PCOS machines na nabili na namin, tutal bayad na e],” Brillantes said.
However, he stressed that the plan is not yet final and the discussion is still ongoing because of some reservations from other commission en banc members including the need for an earlier period for filing the Certificates of Candidacy, use of precinct specific ballots and higher budget.
Brillantes also related that they are now preparing for the elections by setting the Calendar of Activities and the registration period for the SK voters.
He noted that the polls will be on October 28.
In the past, the Comelec had maintained the use of the manual system of elections in the barangay and SK polls.
Johanna M. Sampan