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MANILA, Philippines – The decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to purchase the 2010 election machines for the 2013 polls could reach the Supreme Court.
Election watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) said in a statement on Saturday, March 17, that civil society groups and poll reform advocates are thinking of filing a petition for temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the purchase of the old precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines for use in the 2013 national elections.
Sara Jane Suguitan, Lente spokesperson, said that the petition will be filed by the Movement for Good Governance (MGG) group of economist Solita Monsod, and that Lente lawyers may be its legal counsels.
“Our earlier position is that the ‘option to purchase’ is already expired. We assume Comelec was able to find other exceptions to exercise this option,” she said.
The group plans to submit the petition this week, although they still have to identify the particular grounds they will raise in the petition. “We still don’t have a copy of the Comelec resolution,” she explained.
MGG has earlier called on the government to hold a “competitive public bidding” instead of buying the PCOS machines, which they described as “flawed” and “unfit.” They joined other groups such as the AES Watch in urging the Comelec to procure new election machines instead for the 2013 polls.
Comelec reportedly preferred the old machines to save money. Leasing brand new units will cost Comelec P6.2 billion, while buying the 2010 PCOS machines will cost the poll body P1.8 billion only.
Even Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III reacted to the Comelec decision by reminding the public of the machine’s glitches in the past election. The use of Smartmatic’s PCOS machines in the 2010 polls was marred by controversies, among them the misconfiguration of the compact flash cards and the removal of several security features.
“It makes no sense to adopt the same poll automation technology in succeeding elections, particularly in 2013 and 2016, if the glaring defects of the PCOS system are not rectified this early,” the senator said.
Pimentel added that any decision on what system to be used in the elections should be based not only on financial considerations alone.
“As a victim of dagdag–bawas (vote shaving) in the 2007 senatorial elections, I want to ensure the sanctity of the ballot and the integrity of our electoral process. So let us think long and hard as to what system we should adopt,” he said. – Rappler.com