Press Release
July 24, 2015

Koko tells Comelec: Concentrate on Election System
for 2016 not on proposed mall voting

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel lll today urged the Commission on Elections to concentrate on its job like fixing the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that we already own and not on sideshows like voting in malls.

Pimentel, chairman of the Senate committee on electoral reforms and people's participation, said the Comelec should "concentrate" on the choice of system to be used in the upcoming 2016 national and local elections instead of consuming a lot of time proposing voting in shopping malls.

The Comelec, which opened satellite offices in various malls to accommodate qualified voters for biometrics registration, planned to allow voters to cast their ballots in shopping malls in next year's polls.

He said Comelec should focus on the more urgent and important concerns like the refurbishment and upgrading of 81,000 PCOS machines, or the option to lease 70,000 more optical mark reader (OMR) machines.

The Comelec awarded to Smartmatic a P1.7 billion contract to lease 23,000 OMR machines that would supplement whatever options is finally chosen for the 2016 presidential and local elections.

"This is not the time for experiment," said Pimentel, adding that time is running fast for the Comelec to ensure that full-proof preparations are in place to ensure the success of the automated elections. "Registration in malls is ok but voting in malls is not. Voting must be done in voting centers which are public property and not private property which are subject to the regulations of the owners. Mall owners like ordinary Filipinos also have their own 'manok' in elections. Hence, better to keep the voting out of the shopping malls," Pimentel added.

He said elections are only democratic when they are free and fair, requiring a widely credible system, independent vote monitoring, balanced access to mass media and trouble-free campaigning.

Pimentel said the Comelec should instead focus on efforts to prevent electoral fraud and violations like over-spending, vote buying and terrorism, among others, to ensure a fair, honest and credible exercise.

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