News Update: Nueva Ecija faced with questions over PCOS machines
Posted on May 15, 2010 by class95cafe, Roberto Verzola
GUIMBA, Nueva Ecija – The entire automated election system, hailed as successful on a national scale, is now put to question by the massive failure of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to faithfully transmit results of Monday’s elections in Nueva Ecija which has an electorate of more than a million.
Over the last four days beginning Election Day, May 10, the Provincial Board of Canvassers has been saddled with technical problems with as many as 100 of the 103 PCOS machines used in the polls failing to transmit results from Nueva Ecija’s 26 towns and five cities. Provincial Election Supervisor Fernando Cot-om admitted last Wednesday that only the town of Nampicuan, which has three PCOS machines, managed to digitally transmit election returns. Cot-om said defective compact flash cards caused the problem but that Comelec officials already replaced them with new ones from the Smartmatic warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna. In a statement released on the same day, Guimba Election Officer Manuel Tambalque said the solution has only allowed 46 clustered precincts to transmit results to the Comelec.
The Comelec official explained earlier that of the 103 PCOS machines used, 26 failed to transmit; 17 failed to count; 17 are defective; and 15 malfunction. Meanwhile, reports surfaced in the middle of the long wait that some PCOS machines had changed hands from the Board of Election Inspectors – others found in the custody of barangay captains supposedly for safekeeping.
Guimba Vice Mayor Ler de Guzman said that out of 15 PCOS machines already surrendered by BEIs to the municipal hall, 10 were missing by noon Thursday. Other unconfirmed reports from poll watchers mention of flash cards being destroyed.
The Provincial Board of Canvassers declared on Thursday night the transmittal of nearly 80 percent of the election returns in the province’s four legislative districts. Former Presidential Assistant for North Luzon Rene Diaz, a candidate for representative of the 1st District of Nueva Ecija, is set to challenge the integrity of the results of the canvassing, following the apparent failure of the automated system of transmitting results of the polls.
Diaz wants the Comelec and Smartmatic investigate the suspicious failure of PCOS machines to transmit results. “Ultimately, if there is doubt in the what transpired in between the supposed failure of the PCOS machines to transmit (results) and the canvassing that’s going on right now in the provincial level, then it’s not just the results of the governors or congressmen in Nueva Ecija that may be put into question, but results of all other national positions as well such as for vice president, senators or party-lists,” Diaz pointed out.
The province of Nueva Ecija has an electorate of over 1 million, Diaz said, with his district having over 324,000 registered voters. Since Election Day, tension has gripped as the provincial canvassing board held off any proclamation of winners due to the massive failure of the PCOS machines. “Who is responsible? That is the question that has to be answered here and how can we ensure the integrity of the results?” Diaz said. “Smartmatic, the company that created and supplied the automated voting system used in the May 10 polls, should get to the bottom of the problem and expose irregularities in their operation, if any,” he said.