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Poll chairman: Problems with PCOS machines only 'minor'

(UPDATED 3:50 p.m.) - Poll chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Monday said the problems reported to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) about precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines were only "minor."

In a press briefing, Brillantes said he expects that only about 200 of 78,000 PCOS machines will be replaced due to technical problems.

"Nung 2010, 400 nga of the 76,000 PCOS machines (ang nagkaproblema)," he said.

"Mukhang OK naman (ang election), some reports are blown out of proportion lang," he added.

Misdelivery of ballots

Meanwhile, Brillantes also cited the misdelivery of official ballots for Baguio in Luzon and Compostela Valley in Mindanao.

As the ballots can no longer be brought to the correct precincts, he said there is no chance for the voting to proceed on Monday.

Since only two precincts are involved they may not order for special elections unless the vote for that precinct is crucial for Baguio or Compostela.

Asked how the switching of ballots happened, Brillantes said he has yet to get details but it would probably be a case of mislabeling and said he would hold the forwarders liable for it.

“This is more probably mislabeling doon sa packaging doon sa (ballots). Somebody has to be accountable for it, our forwarders,” he said.

It is Comelec personnel who label the official ballots while Air21 is the forwarder responsible for distributing the PCOS machines and paraphernalias for Luzon and Mindanao. The company 2Go is tasked to deliver the voting machines and paraphernalias for Visayas.
Brillantes added that a failure of elections cannot be declared until after the voting period ends and only the Comelec en banc can declare it.

Minor "glitches"

Meanwhile,  Brillantes cited "small election glitches" like in Bukidnon where the ballot was not accepted by the PCOS machine.

The Comelec ordered the board of election inspectors to cut the ballot. After that, the ballot was received by the voting machine.

Reports of PCOS machine glitches came in from across the country on Monday.

Even the Tarlac precinct where President Noynoy Aquino was to vote had a PCOS machine that jammed, but was functioning by the time the president arrived at midmorning. Aquino noticeably lined up to vote.

Among the reports received by the Comelec education and information department were the three precincts in Zambales, including one each from Botolan and Candelaria, where the voting was delayed due to the late delivery of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

The voting has begun after the PCOS machines arrived, said Ma. Victoria Dulcero, director III of EID.

They also received report that two PCOS machines in Malolos, Bulacan failed to function due to absence of compact flash (CF) cards. The CF card for the other precinct has already been delivered but the one for Brgy. Mohon has yet to arrive.

Meanwhile, there was a misdelivery of official ballots for Floridablanca, Pampanga and Bustos, Bulacan. The ballots for Floridablanca were initially delivered to Bustos and vice versa.

Dulcero said the ballots have already been delivered to their correct precincts.

She further said that a member of the board of election inspector in Guagua, Pampanga gave out pre-shaded ballots to the voters. She was citing a report by Father Kenneth Alde, operation manager of Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting in the area.

The oval allegedly shaded were for certain local candidates in Pampanga. This happened in Precinct 01698 which covers the areas San Miguel Betid, San Juan Nepo and San Juan Bautista.

Dulcero said complainant Elsa Bondoc is now executing an affidavit regarding the incident.

Comelec said the malfunctioning machines are just a tiny fraction of the total. The poll agency is expecting about two percent of the estimated 78,000 PCOS machines to malfunction, or about 1,560 machines.

However, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez reminded voters that they can still vote despite a busted PCOS machine in their precinct. The ballots would later be fed into a working PCOS machine to be counted.

During the election preparations, many raised concerns about the condition of the machines after three years of storage.

They are the same machines that the Comelec rented for the nation's first automated elections in 2010 and which the government purchased in 2012. - VVP, GMA News
 - VVP, GMA News