By Leslie Aquino
The old Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines that the country used during the May 2013 polls may still be used in the May 2019 midterm elections.
But Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez said only as backup.
“Like before, it will serve as some sort of a backup. Our Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) are already 97,000 plus. So, I think that is the entire requirement,” he said.
“In case there is a need, I think the PCOS will be there. But again discussions regarding the PCOS are not over yet,” added Jimenez.
In December, the Comelec en banc decided to exercise the option-to-purchase clause in their lease contract with Smartmatic for the 97,517 VCMs for P2.1 billion for them to be reused in the May 2019 polls.
“The commission studied what is the best plan… And it was decided that financially or economically speaking, the best solution is OTP. The OTP is about P2.1 billion so you still have a leeway in your budget for others that you might need,” Jimenez said that time.
“The P2.1 billion that you are going to spend for the OTP was the only way to make the budget given by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) fit,” he added.
The poll official said the Comelec was only given P8.1 billion for the automation of the 2019 polls by the DBM.
Before the 2013 polls, the poll body also exercised its option-to-purchase clause and acquired all 81,896 units of PCOS machines, which were leased for the 2010 elections, for P1.8 billion.
Instead of reusing the PCOS machines in the 2016 polls, the Comelec opted to lease 90,000 plus VCMs from Smartmatic due to lack of time to refurbish the former.