Fate of PCOS hangs in balance

Paterno Esmaquel II
Poll chief Sixto Brillantes Jr says he will focus on the presidential elections in his last two years in office

PREPARING FOR 2016. Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr says the poll body will decide on reusing the PCOS in the next presidential elections. Photo by LeANNE Jazul.

MANILA, Philippines – Three years before the presidential elections, poll chief Sixto Brillantes Jr said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should soon decide on reusing precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in 2016.

“We have to decide on it now, at least before the end of the year. Otherwise we will have problems again in the preparations for 2016. It should be done early, and I’m prepared to argue,” Brillantes said Friday, August 23, during the #ThinkPH summit organized by Rappler and Google.

Brillantes said he is undertaking a study on the best machines to use in 2016, but will not reveal his initial findings to avoid stirring controversy.

He added he is focusing on the next presidential elections in his last two years in office, as he is set to retire in 2015. “That’s very, very important,” the poll chief said.

The Philippines has used PCOS machines for the last two automated polls. The country first used these machines in the 2010 presidential elections, which elected President Benigno Aquino III.

These machines, however, have received criticism after poll watchdogs twice failed to review the PCOS source code before elections. The source code is considered the “master blueprint” of the PCOS.

The Comelec opened the source code for review, for the first time, less than a week before the 2013 elections. Watchdogs criticized the Comelec for not giving them enough time to review the source code.

Despite this, the Comelec has assured the public that the PCOS is accurate. Last June 28, an independent committee said the PCOS, in fact, tallied votes more accurately in 2013, based on the random manual audit. – Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.