• No stopping 2016 polls

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    Shut to the top  A staffer closes the door leading to the Chairman’s office where the poll body’s commissioners were holding a meeting. Photo by Rene Dilan

    Shut to the top
    A staffer closes the door leading to the Chairman’s office where the poll body’s commissioners were holding a meeting. Photo by Rene Dilan

    Election day already cast in stone

    The spokesman of the Commission on Elections on Wednesday allayed fears that the 2016 national elections will not push through as a result of a Supreme Court decision nullifying the contract for the repair and maintenance of electronic voting machines to be used in the political exercise.

    “We will not allow that. Not even a postponement,” said Director James Jimenez, spokesman of the Comelec.

    The SC on Tuesday voided a Comelec resolution approving its P300-million agreement with Smartmatic-Total Information Management, which was directly contracted to diagnose and repair the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines for the 2016 polls.
    It said the poll body “failed to justify its resort to direct contracting.”

    Jimenez said the Comelec has options for every scenario that may affect the conduct of the 2016 elections.

    Among the options the poll body was considering is to ask Congress for a P14-billion supplemental budget to enable them to buy new counting machines.

    Another possibility is to revert to a manual canvass of the votes cast.

    Holding of manual elections, however, raises some legal questions because Republic Act 9369 mandates that all elections be automated.

    Jimenez said the Comelec can do the diagnostics and repair of the PCOS machines or just use the machines “as is.”

    But poll commissioners, he added, are not amenable to the idea of using the PCOS machines under their conditions at present even if they were given assurances that majority of them are in good condition.

    Jimenez said the poll body is yet to officially receive a copy of the Supreme Court decision nullifying the Comelec’s agreement with Smartmatic-TIM.

    Malacañang spokesman Edwin Lacierda said there are laws that mandate the regular conduct of polls, and these must be followed.

    “The elections should push through. [They are] constitutionally mandated and everybody should comply with the Constitution… We are very certain that the Comelec is very aware of its mandated role of making sure that elections happen in 2016.,” he added.

    The 1987 Constitution sets the elections on the second Monday of May in an election year hence, the 2016 exercise would be held on May 9.

    Lacierda said Malacañang will leave it to the Comelec to figure out the best way to conduct the 2016 polls.

    The commissioners were having an en banc session late Wednesday afternoon to discuss the SC decision and its implication on the 2016 elections.

    Commissioner Luie Tito Guia earlier said they already have a set of alternatives that can readily be implemented under the current situation.

    Guia explained that they came up with the options after a series of scenario-building meetings right after the SC issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping implementation of the Smartmatic deal.

    He, however, did not elaborate on their plans.

    Guia said the Comelec remains open to other options and alterative modes of election system that can provide the requirements, particularly on the issue of accuracy and transparency.

    He conceded that the poll body is operating on a tight time frame because of recent developments.

    At the Senate, Sen. Francis Escudero also on Wednesday said the Comelec should no longer appeal the SC ruling and instead start working on a new bidding process and maximize the time left to prepare for the 2016 elections.

    He added that the best option for the poll body is to bid out the contract again because it is unlikely for the High Court to reverse its unanimous decision.

    “For me, it would be better if they [Comelec] begin the bidding process and not anymore appeal the decision for them to maximize the time remaining before the 2016 elections,” Escudero said.

    The senator noted that if the Comelec would stick with the bidding process and procedures, there is still time to address the technical needs for operating the machines and even Congress has time to help the poll body, if needed, particularly additional funding.

    WITH JOEL M. SY EGCO AND JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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    6 Comments

    1. jesus nazario on

      In a similar Manila Standard article, Mr. Jimenez talks of switching to the CCOS (central count OMR system) using the 23,000 PCOS units that are now under the bidding pipeline. This is a big reduction from the number used in 2010 and 2013 when roughly some 80,000 PCOS units were used. And that’s not the only problem if only Mr. Jimenez knows how to size projects of this kind. The scanning specs for the 2010 PCOS read as follows:

      The system shall be capable of scanning a ballot sheet at the speed of at least 2.75 inches per second.

      This is because PCOS is primarily used as an individual ballot hand-fed device. This specs is equivalent to a scanning speed of about 8 ballots per minute (bpm). CCOS specs start at at least 12 times 8 bpm (100 bpm) with some models reaching 150 bpm to 600 bpm and faster. CCOS uses automatic batched ballots feeders to achieve that speed. To address a national election circa 2000 using 150 bpm CCOS, the project needed 1,991 CCOS units deployed in all cities and towns (or about 1620 sites) ONLY, not smaller site slices Mr. Jimenez says. Now for the 23,000 PCOS units used as CCOS, it will have to be distributed to about 11 precincts each (since there are about 250,000 precincts that will be addressed). 11 clustered precincts is 2,200 voters at 200 per precinct. And it will take some 5 hours to count those 2,200 ballots at 8 bpm. Practically the same rate the old manual count in each precinct takes WITHOUT even counting the time it will take uncounted ballots to be delivered to the counting centers. So why do we have to use machines which is again untransparent not to mention the bigger risk of physically transporting uncounted ballots to the counting centers ?

      Do the math first Mr. Jimenez before you open your mouth !

    2. jesus nazario on

      “For me, it would be better if they [Comelec] begin the bidding process and not anymore appeal the decision for them to maximize the time remaining before the 2016 elections,” Escudero said.

      The senator noted that if the Comelec would stick with the bidding process and procedures, there is still time to address the technical needs for operating the machines and even Congress has time to help the poll body, if needed, particularly additional funding.

      Read my lips Senator Chiz ! “The root problem is NOT, repeat NOT this particular bidding per se.” The root problem is as old as some 6 years already though still in the realm of the bidding process – when Comelec awarded under the Melo Chairmanship the 2010 automation project contract to a unqualified bidder: Smartmatic. Since then, to protect a grossly WRONG decision, Comelec officialdom maxed their effort to shield Smartmatic’s terribly inferior and non-compliant solution across 2 messy elections. For 2016, the messy show must go on so the Extended Warranty Contract with Smartmatic was signed. This EWC though is just a small piece that will open the floodgates to the real objective which is to assure that the garbage PCOS system that performed most shabbily in both 2010 and 2013 will continue to be used with some 23,000 new units added for the 2016 elections. Neat isn’t it ? Neat to some maybe but not to 99.99% of the Filipino citizenry.

      A new system is what the country needs, not new machines of the same progeny from the same provider that will cost PHP 14 billion. A new system and completely TRANSPARENT one will cost very much less than PHP 14 B and definitely astronomically less if we add the billions and billions of money we already wasted on the terrible system used in the two past elections.

      The choice is a no-brainer mga Kabayan !

    3. Eddie de Leon on

      Thank God, the SCourt has voided the Brillantes/Comelec-Smartmatic midnight deal
      But that should not make us stop our crusade to make sure the 2016 elections are TRANSPARENT and free of fraud caused by any kind of counting machine manipulation and human dagdag bawas.

      I understand why the foremost supporter of BS Aquno and of their accursed Smartmatic Automated Election System/PCOS machines keep saying that there is a danger of No Elections. Some of the Comelec commissioners have been telling the media that THERE WLL BE elections. The loudest voices sayng there is a danger of NO-EL are Aquino people and Brillantes himself to scare us into continuing with the use of the illegal Smartmatic AES/PCOS machines employed in 2010 and 3013.

      • jesus nazario on

        Mahabaging Diyos ! Sana naman Mr. de Leon huwag naman tayong samaing palad nang ganoong katagal pa. Until 3013 ? That is almost till the next millenium (997 years) pa. Pati apo nating lampas na sa talampakan will suffer ? Huwag naman huwag po ! God bless us Mr. de Leon.

    4. Kapag di natuloy ang election,kukulo ang dugo ng bosses ni Aquino!
      Malamang ibitin sila ng buhay,kasama ang mga comelec official!
      Ang pilipino kapag tinatakot,lalo lang mag-aalburuto!kaya habang maaga ay magtrabaho ang mga galamay ni Aquino!
      Ito lang ang pangulo na hindi mo alam kung ano ang nasa utak,hanggan ngayon ay hindi pa naghahalal ng hahalili sa mga comelec official ngayon panay reklamo na ng comelec dahil maiksi na daw ang panahon!
      Duduguin ka pagganito ang utak ngpangulo! Wala kang mabuting salita namasasabi!