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Ex-poll chief contests purchase of PCOS machines

With a little over a year before the next mid-term elections, and despite the fact that the technology was used in the 2010 elections, opposition to the use of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in computerized polls still exists. Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Christian Monsod, for one, said the PCOS machines, supplied to the Philippines by Smartmatic, does not comply with the law. “Why would we buy the machine if it cannot comply with the law?” Monsod said in a chance interview Thursday after attending a hearing of the Electoral Reforms and People's Participation and Select Oversight Committee on Suffrage. Monsod said PCOS machines do not have the 30-point guidelines required in computer-generated election machines. “If the safeguard is not in place, how can you audit [the votes]? There is no auditing system in the server,” he said. Voting 5-2 favoring Smartmatic, the Comelec en banc on March 15 decided to purchase the firm's PCOS machines for the 2013 mid-term elections. In a separate interview Thursday, Smartmatic-Asia President Cesar Flores said they are “willing to work with Comelec in fine-tuning the machine.” Flores also stressed that they are ready for next year’s elections. “The system is auditable, secure and accurate,” he said. “At this point, the Comelec is exercising its option to request new features and new changes that we will give back and give Comelec a new version,” he added. Addressing Monsod’s concerns, Flores said a safeguard is already in place against those who would like to manipulate the votes. The Smartmatic president said that the PCOS machines used in the country were the same as the ones used in New York City in the United States, and in Ontario and Brunswick in Canada. — Rouchelle Dinglasan/KBK, GMA News