THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has not totally ruled out the use of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines next year.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said the commission will look into the offer of Dermalog Identification System to repair and refurbish the old PCOS machines supplied by Smartmatic which were used in the national elections in 2010 and 2013.
The Comelec announced that it will use Optical Mark Reader (OMR) in the upcoming polls after two failed biddings for the refurbishment of 81,000 PCOS machines.
Bautista admitted that the use of PCOS will be their option if some legal problems crop up in the course of awarding the contract to Smartmatic Corp. for the lease of 70,977 OMRs.
The Comelec chief said a special working group led by Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim will look into the offer of Dermalog Identification System to refurbish the PCOS machines.
Dermalog is part of the Joint Venture (JV) of Dermalog, Avante International and Stone of David Tactical Equipment, the lone bidder for the repair, refurbishment and upgrading of the old PCOS. The group was disqualified by the Special Bids and Awards Committee for non-compliance with the technical requirements of the Comelec.
Dermalog has claimed that it can do the job within two months.
“We are exploring that possibility. Senior Commissioner Lim was tasked by the en banc to come up with the protocol to explore this possibility on how Dermalog or any other group can refurbish these machines,” Bautista said.
The Comelec has decided not to exercise its option to purchase the OMR machines which will also be supplied by Smartmatic because it plans to use the PCOS machines in the 2019 mid-term elections.
Bautista said a bidding for the repair, refurbishment and upgrading of the old PCOS will be held immediately after the elections next year.
“We will bid out the refurbishment/upgrade contract with a longer lead time because rush jobs are more expensive and present greater technical risk,” he said. “We will utilize the refurbished and upgraded 81,000 plus PCOS machines for the 2019 elections.”
The Comelec is currently negotiating the contract for the first 23,000 OMR units. The contract is expected to be signed next week.
“After the 23,000, negotiations on the 70,977 OMR units will be easy because basically it would be a mirror of the first,” Bautista said.