By Ferdinand G. Patinio
MANILA, Aug. 15 (PNA) — A Commission on Elections (Comelec) official expressed hopes that locally manufactured voting machines will be used in the country’s future elections.
Commissioner Arthur Lim is convinced that it is high time to look for other sources, particularly within the country that would help the commission in providing automated elections.
“The time is ripe for intense soul-searching on the part of the Commission. While foreign technology plays a vital role, is it necessarily a superior one? Assuming it is superior to what we can produce locally, it is worthwhile that the Commission entertain other locally invented election system, like TAPAT, which reputedly holds promise for the future,” he said in his separate opinion in connection with the approval of the all-new 93,000 Optical Mark Reader (OMR) machines (OMR) leasing project.
Lim opined that the commission should also take the initiative to open to locally invented election system in participating in the polls.
“It is submitted that the Commission must consider systems of automated elections other than that sourced abroad. The Commission should take the lead in proposing possible amendments to Republic Act No. 9369 to enable it to make full use of any locally invented election system that may prove viable, reliable and of least cost, in future elections,” he said.
Lim noted that, “Filipino talent and ingenuity must be tapped, and encouraged to flourish. After all, no one can love the Philippines more than the Filipino. For that matter, no one loved the Philippines except the Filipino.”
The Transparent Election System (TAPAT), which uses lotto-style ballots, is automated and GPS-specific but is suffrage-compliant that provides voter a verification receipt and computerized and projected precinct counting before the election returns, digitally-signed by the BEI, are electronically transmitted.
On the other hand, the Comelec official said that all was not lost as far as the refurbishment of the 81,896 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) as they intend to use them in the 2019 elections.
“But all is not lost. The present Resolution directs in very clear terms the mandatory refurbishment of these PCOS machines for use in the 2019 elections, and the Commission will not exercise the Option to Purchase (OTP) for the said machines. This sufficiently addresses my deep-seated misgiving that the old PCOS were being sacrificed in the altar of commercialism as the supplier will naturally be salivating for the product with the bigger ABC and higher margin of profit,” he said.
“With the benefit of hindsight, one cannot help but get the impression that as the ABCs were far too disparate, the idea of bidding out the refurbishment side-by-side with the lease of all-new voting machines was not too sound in that the successful bidding for the new machines, which came ahead, rendered totally unattractive putting up a presumably a much lower margin of profit for the supplier,” Lim said.
Last week, the Comelec decided to lease a total of 93,977 OMR machines from Smartmatic – Total Information Management (TIM) Corp. to be utilized in next year’s polls.
Earlier, the Venezuela-based company won the public bidding for the 23,000 after offering Php 2.2 billion (Php 1.7 billion for lease; Php 500 million for option to purchase) and Php 7.862 billion (Php 6.286 billion for lease; Php 1.576 billion for option to purchase) for the 70,977 OMR machines. (PNA)