Switching to 'hybrid' elections to cost P42 billion: Comelec chief

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 09 2022 04:20 PM

Poll workers prepare election equipment at the Kiamba Central Elementary School in Sarangani province on May 9, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file
Poll workers prepare election equipment at the Kiamba Central Elementary School in Sarangani province on May 9, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA -- Shifting to a hybrid election system, which means manual counting of votes and electronic transmission of results, from the present fully automated election system will cost Filipino taxpayers as much as P42 billion, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

In his agency's budget briefing before the House Appropriations Committee, Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia said a hybrid election system will be more expensive than the current automated system because of the longer hours of work that will be required of poll workers.

"Mas mahal po ang hybrid system of election as compared to the fully computerized election. Magkakaroon po tayo ng mas mahabang period ng mga guro and therefore katulad po ng nangyari sa amin nagdagdag po kami ng kanilang honoraria," Garcia said.

"Kapag po tayo ay nag-hybrid, tayo po ay gagastos ng P42.3 billion. Kapag fully computerized only, tayo po ay gagastos ng P32 billion," Garcia added. 

An automated election system is mandated by Republic Act 9369. 

Meanwhile, Garcia is also asking lawmakers to retire the 90,000 vote counting machines (VCM) used in the 2022 elections.

"These are old machines already and we honestly believe that by 2025 magkakaproblema na po tayo sa mga makinang yan and so hopefully Congress will allow us to lease or if not purchase new machines for 2025," Garcia said.

Garcia said leasing new VCMs will be cheaper than buying new machines.

Garcia said they will hold a bidding for the provision of the technology for the next automated election and that it will also consider the issues raised against the track record of poll automation contractor Smartmatic when it picks its technology provider for 2025. 

"We are fully aware of these issues being thrown and raised against our service provider and definitely all of these issues and concerns raised by our stakeholders and individuals will be seriously considered by Comelec when Comelec will proceed with the computerization of election in 2025," Garcia said.

Garcia told lawmakers that he will be calling a summit of stakeholders by January 2023 to prepare for the 2025 midterm national elections

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