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Smartmatic: PCOS machines have 10 more years of useful life

The company that manufactured the 82,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to be used in next year’s polls assured a House panel on Tuesday that election equipment are built to last.   Dutch firm Smartmatic and its local partner Total Information Management (Smartmatic-TIM) said the PCOS machines, which the Commission on Elections purchased for P1.8 billion last month, can still be used even 10 years from now. "These machines are for a particular purpose. They are still good even for the next elections. They are not like laptops that are very powerful, but are prone to wear-and-tear,” Smartmatic product development specialist Marlon Garcia told the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms Tuesday.   Garcia made this assurance after some lawmakers expressed reservations about Comelec’s decision to buy the PCOS machines, which exhibited some glitches when used during the 2010 polls. Last July 20, the Comelec said some 50,000 PCOS units passed the technical tests, 1,000 were rejected, and about 30,000 were set aside for having "dirty adaptors."   Mandaluyong Rep. Rodolfo Biazon asked Smartmatic if it can still provide hardware support to the Comelec even after 10 years, as stipulated in the contract signed by the firm and the poll body.   “If we are going to use this for four more elections, I want to be assured that these machines will not just end up in the junkyard,” Biazon said.   Garcia explained that Smartmatic’s contract with Comelec provides for a one-year warranty on the PCOS machines, as well as a commitment to provide spare parts to the poll body for the next 10 years.   The Smartmatic official added that the firm will also train Comelec personnel to do repairs on the PCOS machines in case they break down.   The House panel conducted mock elections on Tuesday morning to check the accuracy of the machines. The results of the simulated polls will be out by Wednesday. — BM/ELR, GMA News