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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Erice says Comelec should just use existing machines

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Former Caloocan representative Edgar Erice has requested the Supreme Court (SC) to direct the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to use its existing inventory of 97,000 vote-counting machines (VCMs) in the 2025 polls.

This plea comes as part of a supplement to the certiorari petition Erice filed last month, seeking to annul the P18 billion contract between Comelec and South Korean provider Miru Systems.

“It borders on absurdity why Comelec needed to conduct a bidding for the lease of vote-counting machines and other election-related paraphernalia when it already made a prior purchase of the very same items for which the bidding was conducted,” Erice said.

Moreover, Erice pointed out that theComelec has a standing Service Contract with Smartmatic, which includes a warranty for free replacement parts, ensuring the continued functionality of the machines for multiple elections.

“In support of the President’s call for fiscal prudence, Comelec might want to reuse the VCMs it already owns, thereby saving the taxpayers at least P8 billion,” Erice said.

In his analysis of Comelec’s Terms of Reference (TOR), Erice revealed that 95% of the required functionalities are already satisfied by the existing VCMs, particularly in their Optical Mark Reader (OMR) functionality. He clarified that for the 2025 National and Local Elections (NLE), only the OMR functionality of the VCMs will be utilized.

“Our study of the Comelec’s TOR shows that the existing VCMs already satisfy 184 out of the 194 requirements for OMR,” he said, adding that the remaining 5% “still needs further study but none of these are related to the accuracy of results.”

Erice lamented the Comelec’s failure to consult the Comelec Advisory Council before issuing the TOR, as required by law. He emphasized the lack of transparency and accountability in the bidding process, calling it into question.

“The Supreme Court will act promptly on this issue because the question at hand is very straightforward: whether the Miru System and machine is a prototype. It is not rocket science to determine this,” Erice said.

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