Brillantes to PCOS foes: Let’s keep talkingBy Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Thursday said the poll agency will create a special committee to reach out to critics of the controversial precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that will be used in next year’s elections.
In a dialogue Wednesday at the Comelec office in Manila, Brillantes met with leaders of poll watchdog and civil society groups, electoral reform organizations and information technology (IT) associations that recently tried but failed to convince the Supreme Court to stop the Comelec from purchasing 82,000 PCOS machines from Smartmatic Corp., the same machines the latter leased to the Comelec for the 2010 polls.
“We need to have a continuing dialogue so that their concerns about the technology will be addressed. We might have to create a special committee that will be open to hear, listen to any and all concerns of everybody involved in the technology aspect,” Brillantes told reporters.
He said the groups complained that previous Comelec administrations ignored them, “so I told them, maybe the best way is to create this special committee that will actually address all their concerns.”
Brillantes said the special committee will report to the commissioners en banc so that “we can address all of these problems.”
Among the poll watchdog and civil society leaders who attended the dialogue were Evita Jimenez of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance, Fr. Joe Dizon of Kontra Daya and representatives from Automated Election Systems Watch, National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections and Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting.
“We want to assure the public, most especially the IT, that we are sincere in working for a more improved Comelec. All of us want clean, honest and credible automated elections, why should we not work together? We need your help,” Brillantes told the participants.
Jimenez said everyone wanted an improved automated election system, “but we should all learn from the lesson of 2010.”
Maricor Akol of AES Watch urged the Comelec to restore all the voter verification features of the PCOS machines that were “disabled” during the 2010 elections.
Dizon appealed to the poll agency to actively engage the IT community when IT-related problems arise.
Brillantes said the dialogue went smoothly, adding: “I told them that before they go to any forum, why don’t they first give us a chance? Talk to us first and let’s see if we can agree or not. If not, then you can go to any forum you want to.”