• Comelec open to ‘hybrid’ option for 2016 polls

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    THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is considering the use of a “hybrid”–part manual, part automated–system of election as an option for use in next year’s local and national polls despite questions on its legality.

    Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista on Monday said two other fallbacks are: lease with option to purchase a total of 123,000 brand-new Optical Mark Reader (OMR) counting machines; and use of existing 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

    “At this point, we are considering all our options. Come July, we need to make a decision because of time constraint. We need to decide what system to use,” Bautista added.

    “This is part of our due diligence. We want to see all the feasible and viable options,” he said.

    The Comelec said it would conduct simulation of the hybrid election system being proposed by former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman on June 27 in Bacoor, Cavite.

    Bautista said there is a legal question if the hybrid option is adopted because Republic Act (RA) 9369 or the Automated Election Law mandates computerized polls.

    But, he added, they will still look at the practical side of the proposed election system to determine if it is the best option at least cost to the government.

    “How much is the cost of a clean and credible election? We will have to do a cost-benefit analysis. Each system has its price,” the Comelec chief said.

    According to Bautista, the cost of a hybrid election system, as estimated by its proponents, hovers between P4 billion and P5 billion.

    Meanwhile, total cost for the 123,000 OMR counting machines is P12.897 billion, while diagnostics, refurbishment and upgrade of the existing PCOS machines cost P2.88 billion.

    The Comelec’s Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) opens the bidding today for the supply of the first 23,000 OMR counting machines.

    Opening of bid proposals for another 80,000 units of OMR is on June 29, and on June 30 for the PCOS machines.

    Before the Comelec came up with the final decision, it would first consult all election stakeholders to get their suggestions on the best option for the conduct of the 2016 polls.

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