Don’t use PCOS machines in 2013 polls, Comelec urged
A poll watchdog group has warned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against reusing the controversial Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines or hire the services of its manufacturer, Smartmatic Corp., in the 2013 elections.
The Automated Election System Watch, in a March 5 letter to the Comelec, strongly opposed the Comelec’s plan to exercise its option to purchase the machines under its 2009 contract with Smartmatic and its erstwhile partner, Total Information Management Inc.
The group also objected to Smartmatic’s participation in any bidding for a new poll automation contract, citing the unresolved “errors and bugs” in the PCOS machines and the firm’s alleged failure to comply with certain provisions of its contract.
AES Watch said Smartmatic’s “non-compliance of the minimum requirements and capabilities that impaired the accuracy, security, and auditability of the May 2010 elections should be a ground for disqualifying the company from participating in the bidding for the 2013 elections.”
“The Comelec should open wide its doors to all other technology providers that can comply with the highest standards of transparency, accountability and Philippine laws as well as help provide the best suitable technology system at the most affordable cost to Filipino taxpayers,” the group said.
The commissioners are set to decide this week whether to reuse the PCOS machines or conduct a new bidding.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. earlier said the poll body might consider buying the machines, especially after Congress approved a lower budget for the 2013 polls—P7 billion instead of the P10 billion being sought by Comelec.