Locsin: Only a meteor can stop poll automation


Posted at Jan 27 2010 12:08 PM | Updated as of Jan 27 2010 08:08 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Only a meteor slamming into the Philippines can cause a massive breakdown of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines resulting in a failure of automated elections, a congressman said Wednesday.

"I always believe that if a meteor hits the Philippines and knocks out all the machines, then we can go to manual and we will use the ballots and we will count them one by one," Locsin told [email protected]

Locsin, chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage, also believes that the Comelec's automation calendar is still on time despite the delays in the delivery of the PCOS machines.

"Actually we are not late. Overall, the delivery of all the machines is still on time... So far, they are still on time. As I've said, we are going ahead," the congressman said ahead of the scheduled joint congressional hearing on the poll automation at the Senate.

At the hearing, Comelec executive director Jose Tolentino told lawmakers that adjustments in the poll automation calendar had to be made because of unforeseen events.

He said Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM were supposed to have a poll automation contract last July, which, he said, had been pushed back 2 months from the original schedule of May.

He added that the delivery of the poll machines was again delayed for 51 days because of a case filed in the Supreme Court questioning the contract between Smartmatic-TIM and Comelec.

72 PCOS machines pass tests

For his part, Comelec Chairman Jose Melo reported to the joint committee that 72 PCOS machines have all passed laboratory tests at the warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna. He said 10 more voting machines were being subjected to field tests in at least 10 sites around the country.

Melo also reported that a total of 28,900 machines are now at the Cabuyao warehouse, while 12,000 have arrived in the Philippines awaiting release by the Bureau of Customs.

He said 8,000 more PCOS machines are in transit, 7,200 are awaiting shipment from China, and 26,100 more are being validated for shipment.

He said the rest of the 82,000 machines promised by the Smartmatic-TIM will be finished by February 14 and should "land in the Philippines" on February 21.

Tolentino said that after the field tests and the mock elections scheduled on February 6, Smartmatic-TIM and Comelec will start inspection and "acceptance" tests at the Cabuyao warehouse.

He assured lawmakers that the Comelec has enough time to finish testing all the 82,000 machines before May 10.

He said they will be using 300 people to conduct the inspection and acceptance tests. Inspectors will work 24/7 until all the voting machines are reconfigured and declared ready for the automated elections.