THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is looking at two options as it prepares for the 2016 elections—to renew its contract with Smartmatic or to look for a different service provider that will repair some 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that were utilized in two previous national polls.
In an interview, Commissioner Lucenito Tagle on Monday said the Comelec’s steering committee is exploring these two options after its proposed budget of P25 billion for the 2016 elections was slashed to P10 billion.
Tagle said the P10-billion budget will not be enough because of an overwhelming increase in the number of voters.
“We are looking at an extended warranty [with Smartmatic]and the steering committee [headed]by Commissioner Christian Lim is amenable to it,” he added.
Tagle said the steering committee is also considering holding a bidding for the repair of the PCOS machines although they are yet to allot a specific budget for it.
“We are looking for an extended warranty with Smartmatic because they own the machines, but there are also suggestions to hold a bidding for the repair of the PCOS machines, but that is still to be decided, that remains unresolved,” he added.
The Comelec said the old PCOS machines have to undergo repairs to avoid glitches in the 2016 polls and prevent what happened in the 2013 elections when a number of machines failed to function properly.
Tagle said Smartmatic is still qualified to participate in the bidding for the procurement of additional 23 automated election systems despite calls from various IT experts to blacklist the company.
He added that there is no legal or justifiable reason to blacklist Smartmatic, even as some groups said they will ask the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the Comelec from bidding out the procurement of additional PCOS machines and to blacklist Smartmatic from joining the bidding.