The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday, May 26, said it needs P18 billion to purchase brand new counting machines for the 2016 national elections.
Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes told the House committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms that P10 billion will be allocated for the Optical Mark Reader (OMR) machines, while the remaining P8 billion will be used to buy software and other election paraphernalia.
?We need to buy brand new counting machines because we are no longer sure if the old Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines can still deliver 100-percent accuracy,? Brillantes told the committee chaired by Capiz representative Fredenil Castro.
The poll agency is paying about P1 million for the warehouse fees of the old machines.
When asked by Valenzuela City representative Magtanggol Gunigundo on what it plans to do with the old PCOS machines used in previos elections, Brillantes said the units could be disposed of or reused.
?Using counting machines for 2 to 3 elections is enough. Technology is fast changing,? said Brillantes, noting the PCOS machines were used in the 2010 presidential elections, barangay elections, and the 2013 senatorial elections.
However, Brillantes said Congress still has the last say on how much budget they will allot for the 2016 elections. He said the Comelec can still use the old machines but needed to buy additional ones because the number of voters already has reached more than 50 million.
Brillantes, who is retire on February 2, 2015 together with Commissioners Elias Yusof and Lucenito Tagle, assured the House committee that the remaining four commissioners will push for automated elections in 2016.
These other four commissioners who will remain and be part of the majority in 2016 are Grace Padaca, Christian Lim, Luie Guia, and Al Pareno.
Meanwhile, Brillantes warned that voters who fail to undergo biometrics registration will not be allowed to vote and will be delisted. He said that even those who voted in the last two elections without undergoing biometrics will no longer be allowed to vote.
?This is mandatory. Every voter needs to go biometrics. Those who voted in the last two elections with their photos printed on the list have undergone biometrics are okay. Only those who have not undergone biometrics needs to update their status in order to vote,? Brillantes stressed.
He said they also expect 9.6 million new registrants whose application will be subjected to evaluation. So far, he said they have already validated three million registrants. — PNA