Palace leaves PCOS machines’ 2016 fate to Comelec’s hands

MALACAÑANG is leaving it up to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to heed calls by concerned groups, including a private watchdog, led by industrialist Raul Concepcion, to correct discovered flaws in the voting process, junk the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and use a new automated election system for the 2016 national elections.

Palace Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Palace shares the concerns raised about the urgency of putting in place needed reforms in the electoral process in advance of the upcoming national and local elections scheduled in May 2016.

“The principle of fair, honest and transparent electoral process is always at the heart of any elections,” Lacierda said in a text message to the BusinessMirror.

But President Aquino’s chief spokesman added the Palace would rather let Comelec officials act on Concepcion’s suggestion to consider the wisdom of using a new automated election system (AES) and discard the old PCOS machines altogether.

“The proposal of Concepcion is a matter within the purview of the Comelec and its Commissioners,” Lacierda said.

Concepcion, who chairs the private group Government Watch, pointed out in a position paper last week that urgent electoral reforms need to be installed “now” given that there are barely 19 month left before the May 2016 elections.

He asserted that whether the Comelec opts to correct the remaining flaws and reuse the existing system, or “better yet” consider the wisdom of using a new automated election system and discard the old PCOS machines, “the decision, announcement, and preparation must be made now.”

According to the industrialist, “enough time” must be given to adopt the needed poll reforms and train election personnel to ensure free and honest electoral exercise.

”There has to be enough time for installation, training of election personnel, quality control and audit, and most important an open and transparent review of all hardware and software source codes,” Concepcion added.

He argued that among the legacies Mr. Aquino will leave behind when the President steps down two years from now is his “reform agenda,” noting that “the continuity of good governance depends on our choice of leaders and the process with which we elect them.”

A Supreme Court resolution cited that the PCOS was included in the AES contract budget of P11.23 billion for the May 2010 polls.

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