MANILA, Philippines – Updated official monitoring reports obtained by ABS-CBN News show that a substantial number of precincts may still not have voting machines, ballots, and compact flash cards when polls open on Monday.
As of 9 a.m. of May 8 or 39 hours before Election Day, only 51.9% of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines were in polling centers nationwide, 64% of bundled official ballots had been delivered from the National Printing Office (NPO) to the provincial/city treasurer’s office, and 14.5% of reconfigured compact flash cards had been delivered.
Despite the delays, a Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner still expressed confidence that all the election paraphernalia would be in the polling centers when polls open at 7 a.m. on May 10.
In an interview on ABS-CBN’s Failon Ngayon on Saturday, Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said they will be able to deliver all the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, official ballots, and reconfigured compact flash cards in polling centers by Monday.
“Ito po ay aming made-deliver 100% bago mag May 10. As a matter of fact, ang sabi sa amin ng aming mga technical people at mga kasamahan sa Comelec, Smartmatic kasama po, by tomorrow, lahat po ay nasa mga hubs and polling centers,” Sarmiento said.
Meanwhile, Comelec-Smartmatic’s monitoring of the deliveries of the various election paraphernalia, as of 5:51 p.m., May 8, or 30 hours before Election Day had the following figures:
Memory cards: 90%
PCOS machines: 48.8%
Ballot boxes: 45%
Canvassing units: 71.8%
Tested and sealed PCOS machines: 11.2%
Resort to manual count
On Saturday, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez dismissed fears over the delayed delivery of the PCOS machines.
"'Pag PCOS machines ang pinaguusapan, siguradong meron na pong lahat (If we talk about the PCOS machines, we're sure that all of them will be deployed)," Jimenez said in an interview over ANC's Headlines on Saturday.
He, however, admitted that some of the machines were still in the provincial hubs, and not in the polling precincts. He explained that the machines could not distributed from the hubs without the new configured flash cards.
He said the machines had to be tested and sealed before they could be sent out to polling precincts.
Jimenez also admitted that the compact flash cards may not reach around 5% of the total number of precincts by the time polls open at 7 a.m. on Monday.
However, he said that it should not also be a cause for alarm.
"We have contingency procedures to be followed," he said.
Jimenez explained that voting can start even without the flash cards, and the ballots can be set aside by the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs). The ballots can be inserted into the PCOS machines as soon as the cards arrive.
He said the arrival of some of the flash cards may be delayed until Monday afternoon.
If the flash cards or the PCOS machines fail to arrive in certain polling centers, he said the Comelec can come up with an en banc resolution to conduct a manual count of the votes.