GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 April) — Police authorities in Region 12 will form special teams that will handle the security of the precinct count optical scan or PCOS machines that will be deployed in various parts of the region for the May 13 midterm national and local elections.
Chief Supt. Charles Calima Jr., Region 12 police director, said such move was part of the comprehensive security plan that they adopted for the PCOS machines and other election paraphernalia, which is scheduled for delivery in clustered polling precincts in the area a week before election day.
“We’ve already finalized our security preparations for the PCOS, starting from their delivery, distribution to the assigned precincts and their retrieval later on,” he said.
The police official said the distribution of the PCOS machines to the polling areas will be assisted by local units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The region is served by units under the Army’s 6th and 10th Infantry Divisions and the 1st Marine Brigade.
Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Although part of Region 12, Cotabato City is under the operational coverage of the Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, specifically of Maguindanao province.
Lawyer Remlane Tambuang, Comelec Region 12 director, said the city airport will serve as the drop off point for the PCOS machines, which will immediately be delivered upon their arrival to the assigned clustered precincts for their sealing and testing.
Comelec Resolution 9385, which sets the calendar of activities for the May 13 elections, has scheduled the sealing and testing of the PCOS machines on May 6 to 10.
In Region 12, the official said the Comelec central office has assigned 2,843 PCOS machines for the upcoming elections.
Comelec Region 12 has established a total of 2,807 clustered precincts out of the area’s 13,999 original precincts. The total number of registered voters in the region is presently at 2,015,062.
In the 2010 national and local elections, the region only had 2,769 clustered precincts and 1,987,427 total registered voters.
Lawyer Jay Gerada, Sultan Kudarat election supervisor, assured that the Comelec central office has set the necessary measures to ensure that the PCOs machines will reach as scheduled to the assigned polling precincts.
He said the delivery of the machines from Comelec warehouse in Laguna was scheduled depending on the distance of the assigned precincts.
Gerada, who supervised the conduct of the elections in South Cotabato and this city in 2010, said Comelec central office will also include in the scheduled deliveries the backup PCOS machines, compact flash or CF cards and very small aperture terminal (VSAT) equipment.
He said the VSATs will be used for the transmission of election results in remote areas of the region where mobile signals are limited.
Gerada said they will establish mobile hubs anew for the delivery of the PCOS machines in various parts of the region.
He said the mobile hubs are cargo carriers or trucks that will be used in transporting the machines to the polling precincts.
He said the same system was adopted by Comelec and previous partner Smartmatic during the nationwide launching of the automated or computerized polling system in 2010. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)