Manual polls better than ‘no-el’–Comelec
MANILA, Philippines—Commission on Elections (Comelec) Acting Chair Christian Robert Lim said the poll body would rather hold manual elections than be compelled to postpone the May 2016 presidential polls.
“Manual elections is better than no elections,” Lim said in an ambush interview.
He said the poll body will not allow a “no election” scenario from happening.
Lim said the Comelec is wary of the danger posed by not having an elections as this might result to chaos.
“We don’t want to go into civil war because having no elections will be unacceptable to many,” Lim said.
In a separate interview, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body is determined to do anything possible to prevent a scenario that would force the poll body to revert to manual polls.
“A return to manual elections is not as rosy as some may think. It is not a nostalgic return to paradise as one would like to believe,” said Jimenez.
He said going back to manual elections would entail additional costs to pay for personnel, such as public school teachers, poll clerks and administrative staff.
“This is aside from the return of the threats of vote-buying, ballot-snatching and vote-padding and shaving,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Comelec admitted that holding manual elections is one of the contingencies being looked into by the poll body after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on its precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines refurbishment contract with Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corp.
The 81,000 old PCOS units will serve as the primary automated election system (AES) in the May 2016 race and shall be supplemented by additional optical mark reader machines.
Apart from manual elections, Jimenez said the Comelec is already looking into several options available in case the PCOS machines will not be allowed to be refurbished by Smartmatic-TIM.
One of them is the possibility of holding a part-manual, part-automated elections, wherein the AES will be used in a smaller area only while the rest of the country will revert to the manual system of elections.
Jimenez said another scenario is for the Comelec to purchase 120,000 new voting machines and dispose of the old PCOS machines altogether.
On the other hand, Jimenez said the reuse of the PCOS machines without refurbishment is not among the poll body’s options.
“If there will be no refurbishment of the PCOS machines, then we will not be using them at all. The stakes are too high in a presidential elections for us to risk not testing the PCOS machines before using it,” said Jimenez.
Meanwhile, the Comelec said it can now focus on its preparations for the 2016 elections after President Aquino has signed Republic Act No. 10656, postponing the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls.
Jimenez told reporters that the official deferment of the youth polls, which was supposed to be held on April 25, will now allow the Comelec to focus more on preparing for the 2016 presidential elections.
Based on RA 10656, the SK polls will now be held on the last Monday of October 2016.