Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Wanted: 50,000 techies to man poll machines

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—At least 50,000 information technology (IT) people are needed for the automated elections in May, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced Tuesday.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said in a press briefing that the IT personnel would work for Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) group, which won the P7.2-billion contract for the country’s first national electronic balloting.

The techies will help in the operation and maintenance of the 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the polling.

Some of the IT employees will be deployed in the field, others in the company’s call center to respond to technical questions.

The Comelec and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) are also training 500 IT experts for the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), Larrazabal said.

To ensure that the operations will be smooth on election day, the poll body has mandated that at least one member of the BEI should have IT knowledge and training on how to handle PCOS machines.

The Comelec has coordinated with the local IT industry for its personnel requirements, Larrazabal said.

The Comelec is planning to field 100 IT experts to various municipalities and cities to supervise the poll proceedings.

Volunteers from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, the Comelec’s citizens’ arm, will also train for the project.

All the IT workers will be accredited by the DOST.

Training in January

Bonifacio Belen, Smartmatic-TIM manager, said the company last week held a workshop to develop methods on hiring and training of personnel. The company will start training the employees in January next year.

“There is no shortage of patriotic and IT-savvy Filipinos who want to be part of history,” Belen said.

Smartmatic-TIM has tapped manpower firms Placewell, Manred and Ventureslink to hire the support staff. Interested applicants are advised to send their resumés to these agencies.

Nonpartisan hires

The Comelec has directed its contractor to implement measures to ensure that employees hired are nonpartisan, Larrazabal said.

He said applicants to key positions would undergo background checks and those hired would not be assigned to their home areas.

Under the Comelec’s rules, only BEI members will handle the election and voting machines. Smartmatic-TIM employees will advise the BEI members should the machines malfunction.

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