GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 May) — Except for a few technical problems, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the ongoing final testing and sealing of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that will be deployed here and the nearby provinces of Sarangani and South Cotabato for the May 13 midterm national and local elections have so far turned out smooth and generally successful.
Lawyer Marlon Casquejo, acting city election officer, said Tuesday all 208 clustered precincts within the city’s 26 barangays were able to complete the required processes for the final testing of the PCOS machines and the sealing of its compact flash memory cards as scheduled on Monday.
Aside from the functionality of the PCOS machines, he said the assigned board of election inspectors and technicians also tested the accompanying backup batteries and transmission signals.
During the testing process, Casquejo said two of the 208 PCOS machines that were assigned to the area encountered some technical problems but they were later resolved.
The touch screen display of a PCOS machine assigned to a clustered precinct in Barangay Dadiangas South Elementary School initially failed to turn up but technicians were able to fix it after making some calibration, he said.
In Barangay Conel, he said one of the PCOS machines failed to totally function and was immediately replaced.
“Those were the only problems we encountered and we immediately reported them to the (Comelec) central office so they can be addressed properly,” Casquejo said.
In South Cotabato, the final testing and sealing of the PCOS machines started last Sunday and are still ongoing, said election assistant Nancy Tano.
She said the final sealing and testing of the PCOS machines in T’boli and Lake Sebu towns, which both host the province’s remotest polling centers, was scheduled on May 9.
The Comelec has assigned 893 PCOS machines for the province’s 10 towns and lone city.
“So far, we did not encounter any major problems but there were some minor aberration reported in Koronadal City,” Tano said.
In Sarangani province, provincial election supervisor Jose Alvin Quiñanola said only one of the 406 PCOS machines that were assigned to the area encountered a technical problem during the final testing and sealing process on Monday.
He said the PCOS machine assigned in clustered precinct No. 3 at the Maasim Central Elementary School in Maasim town failed to function due to problems with its security pin.
Gertrudes Omaña, Maasim election officer, said the assigned technician tried to fix the hitch but still failed to get past the problem with the “incompatible security pin.”
She said the technician immediately reported the matter to the PCOS supervisor, who then elevated it to the Comelec central office’s national support center.
“We actually have backup PCOS machines but we can’t use them unless we are advised to do so by the central office,” she said.
Omaña said they decided to just postpone until Tuesday the final testing and sealing procedure for the affected precinct.
In 2010, the election results in Maasim town turned up erroneous after the PCOS machine assigned in clustered precinct No. 21 in Barangay Kablacan transmitted the results of the testing process instead of the actual voting.
The wrong results led to the proclamation as mayor of independent candidate Jose Zamorro, who trailed then administration bet Arturo Lawa in the actual voting.
Zamorro held on to the post until he was removed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government in March last year based on a Supreme Court decision that nullified his proclamation as mayor in 2010 due to the erroneous results. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)