3% of PCOS machines tested are quarantinedBy Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
CABUYAO, Laguna—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and members of the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) on Monday inspected the controversial Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the 2013 midterm elections.
The Comelec and PCOS supplier Smartmatic Corp. began the hardware acceptance testing, the first in the two-part procedure, of the 82,000 PCOS machines last week, after the Supreme Court lifted the temporary restraining order and upheld the legality of the government’s P1.8 billion contract to purchase the PCOS machines.
Although it has “no general conclusion yet” of the machines’ performance, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. has found “all machines well packed (and) well maintained” since their use in the country’s first automated elections in 2010.
Cesar Flores, Smartmatic Corp. president for Asia and Pacific, said they were employing “more stringent” procedures to test the machines before they are delivered to the Comelec.
The PCOS machines, from their temporary storage at the Smartmatic warehouse here, will undergo primary checking, verification and quality control by 160 line operators from both Smartmatic and the Comelec.
As of Monday, 13,000 PCOS machines had been tested and around three percent were “quarantined” for retesting after failing to pass quality control.
Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting chair Henrietta de Villa, who also sits in the CAC, said that among the problems found in the quarantined PCOS machines involved the adapter or the machine’s compact flash card slot.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the quarantined machines were “not necessarily” broken as only the machines’ basic operations were being tested at this stage.
“This is a different process. Basically, we’re testing the hardware,” while the testing of the software, which includes the machines’ accuracy to read the ballots would be done as a separate procedure after the Comelec finalizes the list of candidates and voters next year, Flores said.
“It’s actually better (because) the machines are being tested now and will be tested again next year,” he added.
Brillantes said that at the rate of 3,500 machines being tested per day, Smartmatic Corp. is expected to finish testing the 82,000 machines by August. The Comelec would start paying Smartmatic after the first half of the PCOS machines are delivered.
“From the lessons we learned in 2010, we are hopeful of a better (automated) election (in 2013),” said De Villa, noting that the procedures were being done in a more “orderly” manner.
The Comelec will discuss the PCOS machines with the Senate committee on electoral reforms on June 28.