Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III raised concerns about the exorbitant rental rates of automatic counting machines (ACMs) proposed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to be used for the 2025 national and local elections.
Under the proposed Comelec budget for next year, P19.799 billion is allocated for the rental of the ACMs. The Comelec said 127,740 ACMs will be used, and the rental fee for each machine is P155,000.
Pimentel said the rental rate of P155,000 per machine “is excessively high,” especially when considering the financial challenges faced by the government, including a huge budget deficit.
“To spend nearly P20 billion on the rental of automatic counting machines, with each machine costing P155,000 just to lease, is simply not wise, given our current financial situation,” he said.
He likewise questioned why the price tag ballooned to P155,000 per unit from P70,000 based on Comelec’s earlier statement.
Pimentel noted that the Comelec had firmly set the rental price at P70,000 per unit just last year. Furthermore, he emphasized that Comelec had previously indicated a requirement for only 97,000 ACMs to facilitate the upcoming midterm elections.
“It suddenly increased by 121%. That’s quite a dramatic increase. I think Comelec has a lot of explaining to do,” he added.
The Comelec meanwhile reported that it will implement internet voting for overseas Filipinos in the 2025 polls.
Comelec chairman George Garcia on Wednesday said this is to increase
the voter turnout and to make it more convenient for overseas voters.
For 2025, regardless of whether there is a law or not, the Comelec is pursuing internet voting for overseas Filipinos,” Garcia, quoted by GMA News, said.
Garcia said that despite the 2022 polls’ seeing the highest overseas voting numbers, they were still less than half of the registered Filipino voters abroad.