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(UPDATED 5:57 p.m.) The Commission on Elections is planning to buy more than 120,000 new precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines worth almost P11 billion for the 2016 presidential elections, an election officer told a congressional hearing on Monday.
Comelec Executive Director Jose Tolentino Jr. told lawmakers at the hearing of House committee on suffrage and electoral reform that the commission will conduct a public bidding next year to find the best deal as regards the 121,800 new PCOS machines it plans to buy.
Procurement of the machines and their accompanying software will cost around P10.96 billion, Tolentino said.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in an earlier hearing that the poll body might turn to other suppliers of PCOS machines other than Smartmatic-Total Information Management, which supplied the PCOS machines for the 2010 and 2013 elections.
Some 56 million voters are expected to participate in the next national elections.
Sell old machines
Brillantes said in Monday’s hearing that the purchase can only push through if Congress approves the P36 billion budget the poll body proposed for 2015. Of this amount, P18 billion will be used to prepare for the 2016 elections and the Bangsamoro plebiscite in 2015.
“If you are going to give us the budget we requested, we can purchase brand new PCOS machines. We can sell and dispose of the old machines we used in the 2013 elections,” he said.
The old PCOS machines, which the Comelec purchased from Smartmatic for P1.2 billion, are currently stored in a warehouse in Laguna.
The poll chief said the Comelec is also open to using a mix of old and new PCOS machines for the 2016 elections should Congress grant it with a lower budget.
“With a presidential election coming, we would want to ensure that everything is okay. A way for us to ensure this is to purchase all brand-new PCOS machines. Mas maganda na bago ang gamitin natin kaysa luma ,” Brillantes said when asked about the advantages of using new PCOS machines. —NB, GMA News