Saturday, 12 December 2009

42,000 poll machines to arrive by end-December—Comelec

By Anna Valmero

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said about half of the 82,200 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that will be used in the 2010 elections will arrive in the country by month’s end, an official said.

Automation provider Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) gave assurances the first batch of 42,200 machines is set to arrive by December 31, said Comelec commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, head of the steering committee on automation.

“Based on our talks with Smartmatic-TIM, they would meet the delivery schedules and we could expect the first batch of 42,200 machines to arrive by December 31. We have sent a second team of Comelec officials to visit the facility,” Larrazabal told

Smartmatic-TIM spokesman Gene Gregorio said its Qisdi Suzhou facility in Shanghai, China started production of the PCOS machines on December 1 at a rate of 3,000 units per day.

He dismissed lawyer Harry Roque's allegation that due to delays and the transfer of production from Taiwan to China, the company would not be able to produce the required number of machines and meet the delivery schedules.

“Harry Roque is misinformed in alleging that we cannot meet the delivery schedules. Production of the machines started last December 1 as we have announced earlier,” Gregorio said.

“Based on our pilot runs, it only takes 10 minutes to assemble a PCOS unit so at a rate of 3,000 machines assembled in a day, we could complete the 82,200 within the month if the factory operated 30 days straight,” Gregorio told via SMS.

“At the rate of our production, we are confident to deliver 42,200 units by the end of the year and the remaining 40,000 units by January next year,” Gregorio added.

Each delivered poll machine has to pass a battery of tests to be conducted by the Comelec and its Technical Evaluation Committee, said Larrazabal.

Also by next week, Comelec is set to receive 120 PCOS machines, which include base configuration of the automation software that will be used to educate and familiarize Comelec personnel nationwide on how the machines operate, said the poll official.

The 120 PCOS units, including 20 prototype machines shipped to Comelec on September, are excluded from the 82,200 PCOS machines needed for the country’s first national automated polls, Larrazabal said.

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