Smartmatic: Trust Comelec

By Louis Bacani, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 13 2013 03:55 PM | Updated as of May 13 2013 11:55 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Smartmatic Asia president Cesar Flores admitted on Monday that technical defects in the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines are expected to happen, but he expressed optimism that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will address these issues.

In a chance interview with reporters, Flores said it's "natural" that there will always be some technical problems, since more than 78,000 PCOS machines were distributed around 40,000 locations.

"Any hardware will fail, I guarantee you. If you buy right now 78,000 iPhones, you will have to send back to the store about a hundred or 200. And within the day, another hundred will fail. That's the nature of hardware," said Flores.

"You will have machines failing in election day," he also said.

Some of the glitches being encountered so far in Monday's polls include paper jam within the PCOS machines and clogging of ballots, according to the Smartmatic executive.

"It's not unexpected that these things happen. But what we have to trust is that Comelec will fix these in time when it happens, whether it is caused by the hardware itself or human error," said Flores.

Lawyer Teofisto Elnas, Jr., Comelec Acting Deputy Executive Director for Operations, said only 96 of the 77,829 clustered precincts (less than one percent) have been so far marred by problems including defective PCOS machines.

But Flores said the Comelec is "doing a good job" since the agency has more than 2,000 machines all over the country as replacements.

And despite the reported technical issues in some areas, the Smartmatic Asia executive believes that the automated polls are running smoothly so far.

"So far its going well. Of course, we need to monitor throughout the day and see how the system behaves," Flores said.

"We all want things to be perfect... But when we have to do those things, we realize that it's not easy as it looks. And elections are very, very, complex type of projects," he added.