Fewer PCOS machines blamed for long lines in Surigao

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/13 May) — Long lines in this city’s polling places that were blamed on the fewer number of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines forced some voters to return homes, although others chose to stay on their lines and even skip a meal just to cast their vote today.

Some voters expressed disappointment on the conduct of the election today as they thought it would be better than in 2010.

Amilou P. Billona, 22, said today’s conduct of automated polls was worse than when she first voted in 2010. She went to the Mariano Espina Memorial Central Elementary School in Barangay Taft at 7:15am and finished voting at past 1pm.

“I took the long queue and braved the heat,” she said.

Linda Biol, a voter in Barangay Luna said she queued at around 7am and got out of the school at past 2pm.

Suntanned, tired and starved, she said, this election could have been better if there were more PCOS machines at the Margarita Memorial Elementary School where she voted.

“There are only four PCOS machines in here compared in 2010 when there were at least 10 PCOS. Imagine our barangay has more than 5,000 voters, how could these four clustered precincts work with that huge number of voters,” she said.

She said she was dismayed at the present situation because she taught the issue of long lines in 2010 had been addressed or at least minimized.

Faustino Navarro Jr., a voter in Barangay Luna, went home early aboard his motorbike because of the long line. He said the other three precincts also had long lines.

“I can’t wait and bear the heat of the sun,” he said.

The same situation occurred in other polling precincts in the city as observed by MindaNews.

“Some people got angry because there were some who wanted to get themselves past others who had stayed in line for several hours,” said Noel Maylon, a voter in Barangay Taft.

Maylon said he skipped lunch because of the long lines.

Fernando A. Almeda, Jr., president of Coalition of Surigaonons for Good Governance-Transparency and Accountability said today’s election was a mess.

“At the moment, there are several PCOS machines in our city that don’t work,” he said.

Several voters complained that their names were not in the master lists prompting them to leave the polling precincts.

Among those whose names were missing was Jean Esparrago, a voter from Barangay Canlanipa. She said she was unable to vote today.

City election supervisor Atty. Irish Novern Pasco told reporters he did not know why there were fewer PCOS machines.

He said COMELEC commissioner Sixto S. Brillantes Jr. can answer questions.

The city experienced a brownout at past 10am but power was restored after less than 10 minutes.

Danny Z. Escalante, general manager of Surigao del Norte Electric Cooperative said a transient fault line near the substation caused the electric glitch. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)