Comelec pressed to revisit multiple suppliers rule after midterm polls

Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 13 2019 05:16 PM

Comelec pressed to revisit multiple suppliers rule after midterm polls 1
A malfunctioning vote-counting machine is tested at the Tomas Morato Elementary School in Quezon City, May 13, 2019. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) should revisit its decision 6 years ago to “unbundle” the automated election system, following complaints of faulty vote-counting machines (VCMs) in Monday’s elections, a poll lawyer said.

Since the 2013 elections, the poll body has been bidding out to different companies the supply of components such as ballot paper, ink, and SD card.

Lawyer Emil Marañon said the practice, a departure from the “bundled” system in 2010 when the Comelec dealt only with a single company, gave rise to “compatibility” issues between components.

“In the long run, the Comelec will need to re-examine whether the practice to break up the components of the automated election is a good thing or it's a bad thing,” he said.

The unbundled system allowed more companies to bid for specific components unlike in the past when very few could afford the entire project, he said. 

MISTAKE

Some 400 to 600 VCMs had to be replaced as of Monday afternoon, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said, admitting the number was bigger than that in the 2016 elections.

Many voters, including former Vice President Jejomar Binay, had to wait much longer due to problems encountered with the VCMs.

“This is the fourth automated election... It's supposed to be run much better,” said former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal.

“Why are we having problems which are not really that prevalent before?“

He said the problem with having several companies providing different services and components of the automated election was coordination. 

“You could have avoided the problem if you had each and everyone talk to each other but they didn’t,” he said.

“That was a mistake and it continues to be a mistake.”