Comelec readying extra PCOS machines

Posted at 02/11/13 7:34 AM

MANILA, Philippines - To ensure smooth voting in May, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will deploy extra precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines nationwide to immediately replace units that may malfunction on election day.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said they would send out all 81,000 PCOS units to the field as a precautionary measure in case some machines would not accept ballots.

Brillantes said their service provider would put up regional hubs in key areas near where the machines would be distributed, to temporarily house some 3,000 extra PCOS units.

He said the hubs would also hold the rest of the machines prior to fielding them to various voting centers before election day.

The deployment of reserve units was meant to avoid what happened during last week’s mock elections when one of the PCOS machines rejected the accomplished ballots.

“Once we deploy them out of our Cabuyao warehouse, we will put them in regional hubs first and then from there, they will be distributed to the precincts. It is just like a warehouse on a smaller scale,” said Brillantes.

The Comelec tapped the services of Airfreight 2100 Inc. (Air21) and 2GO Express and 2GO Logistics Joint Venture (2GO) for the deployment of the PCOS machines.

In the last national elections, the poll body pre-selected some 40 regional hubs to house the machines a month before the elections.

Aside from regional hubs, Comelec will also put up demo centers to educate the public on how to operate the PCOS.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said as the campaign period starts, they would also begin holding the demonstrations.

“We want more people to see the demonstration so we are opening it to the public and we are going to accommodate not just the special interest people, schools, organizations, and media, but also walk-ins,” Jimenez said as he stressed the importance of accommodating the walk-ins because they are the ones who are really interested in learning the system.

He said they are set to open this month about 23 demo centers with standby mentors.

The demonstration would be conducted daily at regular intervals of about 30 to 45 minutes. Mentors will also discuss basic PCOS operation like switching on and off the machine, voting experiences like what to do when the unit rejects the ballots, basic voters’ education such as information about the party-list system, and an open forum.

Most PCOS demo centers will be put up in Metro Manila, including at the Comelec main office in Intramuros.

Jimenez said the poll body is also open to invitations from special interest groups who want to hold PCOS demonstrations during their events.

In 2010, the Comelec also held demonstrations in schools, offices, and special programs as part of their information campaign on how the automated voting system works.