SENATE Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has raised concerns about what he calls exorbitant rental rates for the so-called “modern automatic counting machines” (ACMs) proposed by the Commission on Elections for use in the 2025 National and Local Elections.
“Under the proposed budget of the Comelec for the next fiscal year, a substantial portion amounting to P19.799 billion is allocated for the rental of these 127,740 ACMs, each costing P155,000 to lease, for the implementation of the 2025 midterm election,” Pimentel pointed out.
The leader of the Senate minority bloc laments as “excessively high” the rental rate of P155,000 per vote counting machine, “especially when considering the financial challenges faced by the government, including a huge budget deficit.”
He added: “To spend nearly P20 billion on the rental of automatic counting machines, with each machine costing P155,000 just to lease, is simply not wise, given our current financial situation.”
At the same time, Pimentel found it questionable that “the price tag ballooned to P155,000 per unit from P70,000 per unit last year based on the previous pronouncement of the commission.”
He sought an explanation from officials: “Why did it balloon to P155,000 per unit when the Comelec said last year the rent would only be P70,000 per unit?”
Citing an earlier pronouncement made by Comelec both in the Senate and through various media outlets, Sen. Pimentel underscored that the commission had firmly set the rental price at P70,000 per unit just last year, recalling that he, furthermore, emphasized that Comelec had previously indicated a requirement for only 97,000 ACMs to facilitate the upcoming midterm elections.
“It suddenly increased by 121 percent. That’s quite a dramatic increase. I think Comelec has a lot of explaining to do,” he said.
Image credits: AP/Aaron Favila