San Juan NGO asks: Whatever happened to PCOS center project? | Inquirer News
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San Juan NGO asks: Whatever happened to PCOS center project?

/ 10:30 PM May 01, 2013

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) approved in January a P16-million budget for the setup of permanent precinct count optical scan (PCOS) centers across the country in view of the May 13 elections, but taxpayers have yet to see any of these centers with just a few days to go before the balloting, according to a nongovernment organization based in San Juan City.

Wenceslao Tan, head of the San Juan Civilian Volunteers, a group that has been assisting the Comelec in its information drive since 1992, said the poll body approved a budget of P15,798,850 for the opening of 23 centers that would conduct public demonstrations on the use of PCOS machines.

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Where are they?

“But where are these 23 permanent centers? Show us where they are so that the people can use them?” Tan asked in a recent interview, saying the poll body needs to be more transparent as the matter involved taxpayers’ money.

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Tan, an 84-year-old engineer, said his group offered seven sites—one in San Juan, six outside Metro Manila—to the Comelec “for free” as possible venues for the centers, but he had yet to receive a response from the Comelec.

The offer would have enabled the government to save P210,000 a month, since the Comelec allotted P30,000 per center for rentals. “We won’t get anything in return, so why didn’t they take it?” he asked.

He said the Commission on Audit should look into what became of the project.

Reached for comment on Wednesday, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes said he still had to check the concerns raised by Tan.

“We are doing so many preparations here. We have an en banc hearing and I’ll take that up,” Brillantes said.

Presentor teams

Tan said the Comelec, through a resolution signed by Brillantes and commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Armando Velasco, Christian Robert Lim and Maria Gracia Padaca, also sought the creation of  “PCOS demo presentor teams for the general public” and a separate “PCOS demo presentor teams for special interests” to address the needs of political groups and the media, among others.

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The resolution was made upon the recommendation of James Jimenez, Comelec spokesperson and head of the body’s education and information unit, Tan noted. Jimenez could not be reached for comment.

He recalled encountering difficulties when he tried to get a copy of the resolution from Jimenez’s office last month. When the document was finally released, Tan said it lacked nine pages supposedly containing the action plan for the project.

Jimenez’s office explained that the contents of the nine pages were “not for public consumption,” but Tan managed to get a copy of the action plan from the Comelec’s records section. With a report from Philip C. Tubeza

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TAGS: 2013 elections, Comelec, Commission on Elections, NGO, Non-government organization, PCOS center, Precinct Count Optical Scan, San Juan City, San Juan Civilian Volunteers
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