Congress oversight committee on polls urged to meet

By Jess Diaz, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 07 2013 07:46 AM | Updated as of May 07 2013 03:46 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The congressional oversight committee on the May 13 elections was urged yesterday to convene to assess preparations for Monday’s balloting.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the committee should meet to make its own assessment in view of “mixed signals” on the reliability of the precinct optical count scan (PCOS) machines that will be used in the elections.

Colmenares said while the Commission on Elections (Comelec) “is painting a picture of control over the last leg of preparations... a more real picture was shown by press reports of the non-function of some of the PCOS machines in the recent final testing and sealing.”

He was referring to last week’s final testing of the voting-counting machines. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes reported no problem in the precincts he visited, but there were a few glitches with the PCOS machines in other areas.

Although the polls are just a week away, Colmenares said there is still time for the Senate-House oversight committee on elections to meet.

“Is it too late for this at this point of the campaign period? No, I think not, because the integrity of our elections is at stake and we need all the support we can get to ensure clean and honest automated elections,” he said.

“Under the law, the oversight committee is the only body tasked with declaring whether an election was successful or not,” he added.

For his part, House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal member and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez believes the PCOS machines are accurate.

“As a member of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, I am a witness to the reliability and accuracy of the PCOS. It helped us expedite the resolution of electoral protests. I was a non-believer before of this technology and machine, but now I’m a believer,” Rodriguez said.

Colmenares is also concerned with the dispute between the Comelec and election watchdogs over the reliability of the PCOS machines and its software, saying that the concerns of the groups should be addressed.

In past congressional hearings, Brillantes said election watchdogs had been raising issues against the PCOS machines even before the automation of the 2010 elections.

The Comelec chief added he had been hearing the same issues and some of the people who resurrected the issues were linked to companies that lost in the bidding for the vote-counting machines.