February 11, 2012
i-PCOS WILL ELIMINATE FRAUD -- KOKO
Having been a victim of electoral fraud in 2007, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III wants to make sure that cheating that had robbed him of more than half of his six-year term doesn't happen again in next year's mid-term election.
Pimentel, Chairman of the Committee on Electoral Reforms and People's Participation, today launched an initiative he has called i-PCOS, an acronym for Improved Precinct Count Optical Scan (i-PCOS) machines that would require the Commission on Elections to improve the PCOS' application, efficiency, and transparency.
"i-PCOS is a call to the Comelec as well as a challenge for it to do a better job of guarding and ensuring the integrity of the will of the Filipino electorate," said Pimentel.
"Respect the automated election law by observing all the minimum system requirements and allow freely source code review."
"It is a call to eliminate fraud altogether," Pimentel stressed.
By raising the quality of safeguards and lessening opportunities for human intervention in the counting of votes, the Comelec would strengthen the democratic process through automation aided by the latest technology, Pimentel said.
Pimentel finished a close 13th in the final Comelec tally race but a recount of the protested results vaulted him over to 12th place. Before he was officially proclaimed the winner in August last year, Juan Miguel Zubiri decided to step down after a claim that he benefited from fraud.
Pimentel said a poll protest is lengthy, costly and ultimately robs the Filipino electorate of their choice for public office, leaving it to poll manipulators to decide the outcome.
"This practice is anathema to democracy, and it is injurious to the sovereign Filipino people," Pimentel said.
He said that he continues to believe in the power of poll automation to reflect the true will of the Filipino people.
"But the 2010 automation technology as exemplified by the PCOS needs improvement and refinement, in order to plug the loopholes and make it fool-proof," Pimentel said.
"That is why i-PCOS is absolutely necessary. It is incumbent upon the Comelec to act now, and act with wisdom, knowing what works and what doesn't," Pimentel added.
He said that generally the 2010 elections were conducted peacefully, greatly reducing violence and incidence of harassment of voters, ballot-snatching, ballot-switching and tampering with election returns at the precinct, municipal and provincial levels.
Citing the insufficient budget for the 2013 midterm election, the poll body has said it would maximize the use of the PCOS machines by having two clustered polling precincts share one PCOS machine.
The Comelec said it would not allow 1,000 voters to be in a clustered precinct.
Comelec Commissioner Lucenito Tagle said the poll body would either lease brand new machines or purchase the machines that the poll body leased from Smartmatic International Corp. in the 2010 polls.
The Comelec would need at least 125,000 PCOS machines for the 2013 election. The poll body plans to start the bidding for the new machines next month.
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