SANTA ROSA CITY, Laguna: The vote counting machines (VCMs) supplied by Smartmatic are now being tested by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at a heavily-guarded storage facility in Laguna province, south of Manila.
So far, 90,000 counting machines have been delivered by Smartmatic.
“I was informed by Smartmatic that there are already 90,000 machines that are already in the country, and 6,000 are in transit from Taiwan to the Philippines. The total number of delivered VCMs in the warehouse is 71,456 of which 64,382 units have undergone HAT, or hardware assessment test,” Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said during a walk-through with members of the media at the Comelec storage facility here.
The commission ordered 97,519 VCMs from the election technology provider.
Smartmatic Corp. project director Mario Garcia said each machine undergoes a series of repeated tests to achieve the required 99.99 percent accuracy.
Defective machines, Garcia added, were “quarantined for repair.” If these machines can no longer be repaired, they will be replaced.
So far, he said, 250 machines have been found to be defective.
Director Thaddeus Hernan, Comelec administration service chief, said there are more than a thousand workers testing the machines.
More trained personnel will be deployed as the Comelec steps up its accuracy test of the VCMs to ensure that they meet requirements on election day.
The poll body will start dispatching the VCMs to the provinces next month, beginning with the farthest areas in the country.
The Comelec is renting the five-hectare Laguna facility for P68 million a year.
Aside from the counting machines, it also stores external batteries, cables, laser printer, toner, modems, thermal paper, laptops and the corresponding compatible ballot boxes inside the facility.
The 93,977 VCMs are being leased, with option to purchase, by Comelec from Smartmatic for P10 billion.
The Comelec maintains another warehouse in nearby Cabuyao town, also in Laguna, which houses the 82,000 units of the old PCOS or precinct count optical scan machines.
The PCOS machines were used in the 2010 and 2013 elections. They were leased from Smartmatic in 2009 for P7 billion.
In 2010, the Comelec exercised its option to purchase the PCOS at an additional cost of P2 billion.
The commission pays P800,000 a month or P9.6 billion a year in rentals for the warehouse where the PCOS are being stored.
Since 2009, the Comelec has spent P57.6 billion for rental fees, bringing to P66.9 billion the total amount it spent for the PCOS machines.
The poll body earlier planned a mix use of PCOS and VCMs for the May 2016 elections but the plan was abandoned in November 2015 because of incompatibility problems.
Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim explained that the VMCs are equipped with a new canvassing and consolidation system (CCS) not compatible with the PCOS machines.