The Senate will ask the Commission on Elections to explain its negotiated contract with Smartmatic over the refurbishment of Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS machines, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said Thursday. He said the Senate Oversight committee on electoral reforms will summon Comelec officials during a Senate inquiry on the “repair contract” next month. He gave no dates for the hearing but said Comelec officials should explain its contract with Smartmatic. “They should explain to the public why they entered that negotiated contract with Smartmatic,” said Pimentel who heads the Senate electoral reforms committee.
Voting 5-2, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has decided to tap Smartmatic Total Information Management Corp. to refurbish the 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the May 2016 presidential polls. With this development, the poll body will no longer bid out a contract for the repair of the voting machines. “The Comelec en banc has opted to give the project to Smartmatic, with 5-2 votes before the Christmas break. So there will no longer be a public bidding on this,” a Comelec source said over the weekend. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes along with Commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph, Christian Robert Lim and Al Parreño voted to extend the warranty of the PCOS machines with Smartmatic. Those who opposed the proposal were Commissioners Luie Guia and Arthur Lim.
The joint venture led by Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corporation was the only bidder that passed the first stage of the bidding for the lease of touchscreen voting machines for the 2016 national elections. On Tuesday, December 16, the bids and awards committee (BAC) of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) voted 3-2 to declare the Smartmatic-TIM joint venture eligible to proceed to the second stage of the bidding process. Bids committee chairperson Helen Aguila-Flores, vice chairperson Jubil Surmeida, and member Divina Blas-Perez voted for Smartmatic-TIM’s eligibility, while members Charlie Yap and Maria Juana Valeza deemed Smartmatic-TIM as ineligible.
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Monday that it has approved the pilot-testing of touchscreen and Internet voting sytems in Pateros, Metro Manila, and select sea-based Filipinos during the 2016 elections. Both Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes and the Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting head, Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, disclosed during separate interviews that the poll body has already issued a resolution formalizing the commissioners’ consensus to test the touchscreen and Internet voting systems. “We have already issued a resolution, which is to use all the 410 Direct Recording Electronic [DRE] units in Pateros since it fits the requirements of pilot-testing,” Brillantes said. Meanwhile, Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. has to overcome yet another legal challenge in order to advance to the next stage of the bidding for additional voting machines for use in the 2016 national elections. This after the bids and awards committee of the Commission on Elections was asked to exclude the Venezuelan firm from the proceedings on grounds of eligibility.
Smartmatic International has maintained that it has exclusive rights over the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, which gives it sole authority to refurbish the equipment for the 2016 presidential balloting. Cesar Flores, the Venezuelan firm’s president for Asia, said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should award the contract to repair and upgrade 80,000 PCOS machines to Smartmatic as it owned the rights to its parts. “If you open this to other bidders, the other bidders will try to [get into the] parts, which they cannot [do so] because we have exclusivity on those parts,” Flores told reporters in a recent interview. He added that the Comelec would benefit a lot if it would forgo its plan to bid out the project and award it instead to Smartmatic as the former wouldn’t have to seek a recertification if new software were needed for some of its parts.
The Commission on Elections, through the promulgation of Resolution No. 9903, approved the piloting of the iRehistro Project (internet registration) for overseas voter registration, the Department of Foreign Affairs – Overseas Voting Secretariat (DFA-OVS) announced on Friday, October 17. DFA said the pilot project will be implemented by the Philippine Embassy in Madrid, Spain (Madrid PE), beginning the first week November 2014 for a period of one month, to cover both sea-based and land-based registrants. Within thirty days of its initial implementation, Madrid PE shall submit its report and recommendation on the viability to continue the implementation of the project. If the pilot IRehistro Project is found to be viable, other Philippine foreign service posts may then request for inclusion in the project.
The call of a non-government organization to junk the reuse of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in the May 2016 polls was rejected by the Comission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said they cannot junk the PCOS machines because they were not given enough budget allocation for a new automated election system (AES). “We don’t have money for that,” he said in an interview. Earlier, Government Watch urged the Comelec to use a new AES in the next polls instead of reusing the PCOS machines citing alleged cases of discrepancies between the results of physical count of ballots and the voting machines as reason.
The Commission of Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday urged lawmakers to pass a law allowing Filipino voters abroad to cast their ballots online in order to encourage them to participate in the 2016 local and national elections. Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the poll body will need Congress’ approval to implement an online voting system since Republic Act No. 10590 or the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2013 only allows Filipino voters abroad to cast their votes either through mail or at the Philippine embassy or consulate. “We’re proposing [voting through] e-mail or the Internet… but this will require the approval of Congress. The system now is you have to go to the consulate or the embassy kaya kakakunti ang bumoboto,” he said.
The Commission on Elections will be reusing the existing Optical Mark Reader technology as the primary voting system for the 2016 Presidential Elections. Chairman Sixto Brillantes made the announcement to the media Tuesday afternoon following an en banc meeting of the Commission. Brillantes said that the en banc has decided to adopt in general the recommendation of the Comelec Advisory Council to reuse the existing technology, “provided that the existing machines be subjected to rigorous quality assurance and testing processes” and “that the security features and minimum system capabilities required by law will be fully implemented.” Brillantes said that the Commission is looking to purchase or lease between 10,000 to 41,000 additional precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to augment the existing 80,000 purchased machines.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has decided to use another voting technology aside from the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in 2016, an agency official told reporters on Monday. The official, who declined to be identified for lack of authority to speak, said the commission en banc adopted the recommendation of the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) to use “multiple or mixed technologies” in the elections to accommodate more voters. “In principle, it has been decided to use mixed technologies. It is not a total adoption but we are basically following the CAC recommendation, although there will be some modifications,” the source said.