MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is ready to help the Commission Elections (Comelec) deliver the compact flash cards of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) in time for the May 10 elections.
Col. Ricardo Nepomuceno, spokesman of the AFP’s Task Force HOPE (Honest Orderly and Peaceful Elections), said the Comelec can tap the military’s aircraft and vehicles to deliver the compact flash cards.
"We could do that if requested by the Comelec so we can meet the schedule. We are willing to help," Col. Ricardo Nepomuceno told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.
Under Comelec rules, Nepomuceno said the military’s sole task is to help secure the holding of the elections. This includes providing security escorts when election materials are being transported.
Nepomuceno explained that election rules also allow the Comelec to use the military’s assets to transport the election materials as a last resort.
"In areas that are not accessible by ordinary vehicles, areas that can be reached only by walking, we can deliver those materials using our air assets to assist them (Comelec). But that has to be requested (by the Comelec)," the officer said. "We just want to assist in the delivery (of the compact flash cards) to meet the deadline of May 7," he said.
Nepomuceno said if military assets are tapped to play the primary role of transporting the compact flash cards, soldiers will keep their hands off from the memory cards in compliance with standing election rules.
"If ever the Comelec requests for the use of our assets, they (poll officials) should always be there (to supervise the transportation). We are not supposed to be the only ones doing the transporting. The (poll officials) should be the ones handling them (compact flash cards)," he said.
Nepomuceno said the military was concerned after the reported malfunctioning of the PCOS machines because the incident has a direct impact on the military’s security plan for this year’s elections.
"It’s impossible that we will not be concerned because that would affect our planning for security. Our planning is there at the level of the local joint security coordination centers. Now, they have to adopt minor adjustments on the timing and of course the mode of transportation," he said.
Nepomuceno said all systems are in place to address possible violence that may erupt.
Though soldiers trained in civil disturbance management have also been deployed in strategic areas, he said he doubts that armed violence will take place on election day.