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May 2016 polls to cost P60-b; Comelec eyes new system

BAGUIO CITY – The Aquino administration  will need at least P60 billion to bankroll the conduct of the May 2016 synchronized national elections once the Commission on elections  decides to adopt a new system of computerized polls, according to  Commissioner Christian Robert S. Lim.

Lim explained that Comelec has not yet decided on the type of machine it will use during the May 2016 elections as it is awaiting the Comelec Advisory Council  and the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee final recommendations on the issue.

Comelec and JCOC have the final say on the type of machine to use in the May 2016 polls  although they are not ruling out the option of harnessing again the controversial Precinct Count Optical Scan machines.

 “We need to sustain the gains of the computerized elections that is why we are currently closely coordinating with the members of the CAC and the JCOC on what will be the most workable machine to be used in the May 2016 elections,” Lim stressed.

 Lim said the poll body is also bounded by the budget to be provided by the Department of Budget and Management  in the on-going upgrading of the country’s computerized elections. He added the government can spend as low as P10 billion and as much as P60 billion for the  synchronized elections.

“We will still meet with the CAC and JCOC members by May and we have to await the budget to be submitted by DBM for congressional action by July, then we will know where the May 2016 elections will go,” Lim stressed.

He said that among the pending proposals with the poll body include the continuous use of the controversial precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, the use of biometrics scan machines and touch screen machines for the May 2016 polls.

Lim added the poll body decided to reduce the number of voters in one clustered precinct from 1,000 registered voters to 600 voters in order to accommodate more voters in a polling center and to prevent glitches in the machines as a result of the huge number of voters being counted and canvassed.

In terms of budgetary requirements, Lim revealed the purchase of additional 6,000 PCOS machines and the repair of damaged PCOS machines will entail around P10 billion while the purchase of bio-metric machines will cost around P16 billion. 

“Each of the pending computerization proposals have their own unique advantage but the decision on what type of machine will be used depends on the recommendation of the advisory council and the congressional oversight committee and more importantly the budget to be given by the national government,” Lim added.

Meanwhiole, Comelec  will also purchase 500 additional voter registration machines which will be distributed to t  election offices nationwide in time for the prescribed registration period from May 6, 2014 to October 31, 2015.

Commissioner Grace Padaca said the move will prevent overcrowding during the registration period and accommodate new registrants and those registered voters wanting to have their bio-metrics records taken.

“We will apportion the new voter registration machines depending on the projected influx of new registrants and the available Comelec records on the number of registered voters having no bio-metrics record in a certain province, city or municipality,” Padaca stressed.

She cited the one year and five months registration period approved by the Comelec en banc for those new registrants and the identified 9.6 million registered voters who do not have their bio-metrics records is sufficient if the people avoid the last-minute attitude and immediately visit the nearest Comelec offices in their place to check their voting records.

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