Comelec to abandon use of PCOS machines

Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to pass a resolution that would abandon the use of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and return to the manual procedure in the handling of poll protests and recounts.

"An automated election does not mean automated revision. Kasi kung automated revision din, e di wala ka na din makikita. Yun pa din ang resulta. At hindi mo na binibigyan yung mga natalo ng chance to look at the actual ballots, which is the best evidence (Because if it's just an automated revision, you won't see anything. And you're not giving the losers a chance to look at the actual ballots...)," Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes told reporters in an interview.

It would be recalled that in November 2010, Comelec issued a resolution providing for the use of PCOS machines in dealing with election protests.

Former Comelec Chairman Jose Melo earlier said using the manual system in handling protests would only "bring back the human intervention problem".

But Brillantes disagreed with Melo saying the use of the manual system to recount the results of the PCOS count will also be a way to check the accuracy and efficacy of the automated election system.

"It will be used also as a tool to validate the results of the PCOS count last May, if they are correct or not," he said.

As part of the Comelec's first agenda to test the recount proceedings, Brillantes said they will tackle first the protest case of losing mayoralty candidate Lito Atienza versus Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

Asked if it is safe to conclude that a reversal in the win of Lim last May 10 would mean that the PCOS machine was a failure, the poll chief answered affirmatively.

"Kapag naka-recover si Atienza ng konti (If Atienza recovers a little bit), that will not mean anything. Pero kung magkakaroon ng total reversal o sabihin na mali lahat yung (almost) 200,000 o substantially ma-reduce, magkakaroon ng problema yung PCOS (But if there is a total reversal or if it says that almost 200,000 were wrong or there was a substantial number reduced, the PCOS will have a problem)," said Brillantes.

It was last May 17, when Atienza filed an electoral protest at the Comelec against Lim claiming that there were massive irregularities and errors committed in the canvassing and counting of votes by the PCOS that led to the non-reflection of the actual votes cast.