MANILA - No less than the chairman of the Commission on Elections is recommending that the poll body discontinue use of Smartmatic precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in the 2016 elections.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said he will advise the next Comelec chief not to use the Smartmatic PCOS machines in the 2016 elections due to the large number of criticisms with the system in the last 2 elections.
"Ako personally, I don't think we should use PCOS anymore because of the experience na nagkaroon ako, na pangalawang gamit pa lang ang daming batikos na inabot natin. Mahihirapan ang papalit sa akin na chairman sa 2016 kung eto rin ang sasagupain niyang batikos," he told radio dzMM.
Brillantes said the current PCOS machines from Smartmatic can still be used in the presidential election as long as they are maintained properly. He said a proposal to increase to 100,000 the number of voting machines was nixed due to lack of budget.
The Comelec chief said he still wants the poll body to use optical mark recognition (OMR), similar to the PCOS machines, in the next elections.
"The general category is the OMR. Scanning pa rin, not necessarily the Smartmatic PCOS. The scanning machines would be OK for 2016 kasi yan na ang experience natin. Hindi na tayo kailangang magpalit na general na makina. Pero whether we use the Smartmatic PCOS, which we have used twice, meron akong reservations dun. Yun lang ang gusto kong i-clarify. Sana hindi na. Tignan natin ang maintenance ng mabuti at bumili ng bago, not necessarily coming from Smartmatic but the same OMR system," he added.
Comelec is paying Smartmatic P1.8 billion for 82,000 PCOS machines used in the 2013 elections. Of the amount, Smartmatic still has about P200 million in collectibles from Comelec, according to Brillantes.
Brillantes said P200 million is a "retention fee" for any due and demandable items that Comelec needs from the PCOS supplier. He said defective PCOS machines and malfunctioning compact flash (CF) cards could be deducted from the Smartmatic retention fee.
Smartmatic is also the supplier of the CF cards.
The Comelec chief said he is still asking for a final report on how many PCOS machines malfunctioned during the elections last week.
Brillantes said the poll body will also need to look for a new warehouse to store the PCOS machines. He said he prefers putting the machines in government-owned warehouses either in Subic, Zambales or Clark, Pampanga.
He also said he is interested in piloting the use of PCOS machines during the October barangay polls but conceded that it would be more expensive than manual polls because of the additional cost of delivering special ballots and machines.