Pimentel to probe use of PCOS machines in poll fraud

MANILA, Philippines – More than a year after the May 2013 national elections, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said he would file a resolution to address questions on the accuracy and integrity of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that were used.

In a statement released on Thursday, August 7, Pimentel said he would call for a Senate inquiry into the issue, especially now that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has just offered options for a new technology that might be used for the 2016 elections.

Pimentel, who chairs the Senate committee on electoral reform, cited a case in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija, that showed inaccuraries in the PCOS count. 

A manual counting of votes in two barangays in General Tinio “showed a big disparity” when compared with the results churned out by the PCOS machines.

It was found that senatorial candidate Eduardo “Eddie” Villanueva got 900 votes in the manual counting in Clustered Precincts 19, 29, and 30 of barangays Pias and Concepcion, while he only got 781 votes in the official Comelec tally provided by the machines.

The case was brought to the Regional Trial Court of Gapan City, with the petitioners claiming that the PCOS results were “mathematically improbable because the votes counted for Villanueva in the concerned clustered precincts were less than the number of plaintiffs.”

The petitioners added they even conducted a series of public consultations, where they found out that "the number of voters who actually cast their votes for Villanueva were far greater than the votes tallied by the PCOS machines."

Pimentel, alarmed by the incident, said the PCOS machines "produced erroneous results, betraying the true will of the electorates" in the identified localities.

He earlier endorsed the idea of replacing the PCOS machines with newer technology after technical glitches marred the use of these machines during last year's midterm polls, resulting to delays in transmission of votes.

Among the problems encountered included the failure to initialize the machines, poor wireless signals, and sudden shutdowns. (READ: Koko urges Comelec to get rid of PCOS in 2016)

Comelec, however, said their own assessment showed that the PCOS machines "worked exactly as intended." Only 2% of the total 78,166 PCOS machines deployed across the country had to be replaced, while barely 1% of all compact flash cards used had to be replaced. (READ: Depending on technology, 2016 polls to cost P7B to P60B)

The poll body even boasted that the random manual audit (RMA) of the May 2013 elections showed a 99.975% accuracy rate for PCOS machines. It was an increase from the results in 2010, the first automated elections, where PCOS machines registered 99.6% accuracy in the RMA. (READ: PCOS more accurate in 2013, audit shows)

The PCOS machines were supplied by Smartmatic-TIM for the 2010 national elections. Comelec bought the machines in 2012 to be used again in the 2013 midterm polls. The validity of the purchase was questioned, but the Supreme Court later upheld it– Rappler.com