Brillantes: Replace PCOS machines for 2016 polls

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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The Philippines can manufacture its own automated election system by 2016, says the poll chief

SOURCE OF CRITICISM. Poll chief Sixto Brillantes Jr says he won't recommend using PCOS machines in 2016. File photo by John Javellana

MANILA, Philippines – Once he retires in 2015, poll chief Sixto Brillantes Jr said there’s one thing he doesn’t want his successor to inherit.

It’s the headaches he got from critics, particularly over the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, Brillantes said Monday, May 20. “I’m not going to recommend PCOS anymore,” he said.

Brillantes said the Philippines can still use the PCOS for the 2016 elections, but discourages this “if it will undergo the same thing” it underwent in 2013.

Kawawa naman ‘yung papalit sa akin. Sangga siya nang sangga; manggagaling do’n sa mga taong labas, na wala namang sinasabi kung hindi paulit-ulit,” Brillantes said. (Then I pity my successor. He’ll keep shielding himself from criticisms by people from the outside, who say nothing else but the same things.)

Brillantes said the Comelec is open to manufacturing its own automated election system, down to the source code, which contains the instructions that run ballot-counting machines. (Watch more in the video below.)

Hindi mahirap. Oo, kaya natin ‘yon,” Brillantes said. (That won’t be difficult. We can do that.)

‘Qualified success’ no more

He explained that, unlike this year, the Comelec would have the capacity to do this by 2016. The Comelec, for instance, can design its own consolidation canvassing system (CCS), and manufacture or at least control the manufacturing of PCOS machines.

Brillantes on Monday said the 2013 elections, which made use of PCOS machines, was a “success” compared to the 2010 polls. He said he had always categorized the first automated elections in 2010 as a “qualified success.”

He attributed the success to the Comelec’s taking over of 60% to 70% of election services from Smartmatic, which sold the Philippines its PCOS machines.

Despite this, Brillantes said the Comelec needs more time to prepare for the 2016 elections. He thus suggested moving the barangay elections, scheduled in October 2013, to late 2014 or 2015.

The current automated election system, which makes use of PCOS machines, has faced various criticisms since 2009. Critics have blasted the use of Smartmatic’s PCOS machines, questioning the lack of a local source code review, among other things.

Brillantes had also admitted defects in around 200 out of 78,000 PCOS machines. Based on reports compiled by Rappler, these problems include failure to initialize the machines, paper jams, and sudden shutdowns. These caused delays in transmission of results, inviting suspicions that there were attempts by some camps to manipulate the votes in the problematic areas. –


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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email