MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has started preparing for the 2016 presidential elections, holding out the possibility that they may still ditch the Smartmatic-PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes led the Comelec en banc in facing the House panel of the joint congressional oversight committee on automation where they presented their report on the 2013 midterm elections as well preparations for the 2016 presidential elections.
Brillantes said they are considering many options on the automated election of 2016 including the use of the old Smartmatic-PCOS machines, the use of new Smartmatic-PCOS machines along with still working but old PCOS machines, the purchase of new PCOS machines from a different vendor besides Smartmatic, and the use of an altogether new technology -- Direct Recording Electronic (DRE).
PCOS is considered an example of optical mark reading technology where voters shade the ballots, and the votes are consequently counted by machines.
DRE, on the other hand, is akin to touchscreen technology where voters cast their votes by picking candidates from a touch screen.
Brillantes said it will all depend on the budget that will be given by Congress to Comelec for next year. The decision on what technology will be used will come by year end.
"Parang chicken and egg. Di kami maka-desisyon. Depende sa pera."
The new PCOS machines will cost the government P20 billion. The use of a combination of old and new PCOS machines will cost P12 billion to 16 billion.
Nevertheless, the poll body already began preparations by constituting the 2016 steering committee led by Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim and Commissioners Grace Padaca, Al Parreno and Luie Tito Guia as members. Decisions of the steering committee, if unanimous, are considered final.
Brillantes and the most senior commissioners, Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph, are retiring on February 2015.