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Comelec asked to come up with new system for disposing machines

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By Samuel Medenilla
The multi-stakeholder council of the Commission on Election (Comelec) has called on the poll body to come up with a new system to dispose of machines it has used in previous automated elections to cut down on its expenses.

COMELEC BUILDING / CREDIT: Cultural Heritage Monument in the Philippines via Wikimedia/ Manila Bulletin

COMELEC BUILDING / CREDIT: Cultural Heritage Monument in the Philippines via Wikimedia/ Manila Bulletin

 
In its Resolution No. 2017-002, the COMELEC Advisory Council (CAC) said the measure will prevent the government from unnecessarily spending for the storage and maintenance of the machines.
 
“Disposal of the machines when no longer serviceable or when their purchase and re-use will be more costly and disadvantageous to the government,” CAC said in its 5-paged resolution.
 
To recall, Comelec bought from Smartmatic the 81,896 Precincts Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines it in the in the 2013 polls so it could be used in the 2016 polls.
 
However, the poll body was unable to utilize the PCOS machines in last year’s elections since it was unable to refurbish the units.
 
Thus it was forced to lease 97,517 vote counting machines (VCM), which is a better version of the PCOS, from Smartmatic for the 2016 elections.    
 
Comelec earlier said it will shell out P69 million per year to store its purchased PCOS machines and that it may also have to spend another P2 billion to refurbish them. 
 
In 2015, Comelec floated the idea that it may sell the used PCOS to other countries to generate funds, which it could use to buy new machines.
 
The CAC cautioned Comelec from further buying used machines due to their inherent problems.
 
It noted Comelec must first determine if exercising its option-to-purchase (OTP) for the leased VCMs will be cheaper if it were to just buy new machines for the 2019 and 2022 elections.
 
“The goal is to avoid future problems, as well as the problems encountered or observed during the procurement of refurbishment services for the procured PCOS machines in 2013 for the 2016 elections,” CAC said.
 
CAC also pointed out Comelec should consider the identified deficiencies of the leased VCMs before considering of purchasing it from Smartmatic.
 
“The problems or deficiencies identified or observed in the 2016 elections such as but not limited to Voter Verified Paper Audit (VVPAT) implementation should be addressed before exercising OTP,” CAC said.  (Samuel Medenilla)

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