Comelec douses concerns over security of PCOS delivery
MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday expressed confidence that the forwarding firms hired by supplier Smartmatic will be able to deliver the poll counting machines to the right precincts and in good condition.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez also told “Take One” on the ABS-CBN News Channel that concerns about the security of the machine deployment will be adequately addressed.
Jimenez was reacting to a Newsbreak report that the delivery of the 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines is in the hands of layers of subcontractors with limited track record and resources, and without direct accountability to the Comelec. Thus, the counting machines are exposed to risks from groups with vested interests.
Smartmatic has contracted 3 forwarding firms, which Newsbreak research showed have very limited resources. One of them, Germalin Enterprises, was prudent enough to take on only the Metro Manila contract because that’s what its own trucks and personnel can realistically cover.
The other 2 forwarders—Ace Logistics and Argo International—however are covering entire islands despite their limited resources. Ace (which will cover the rest of Luzon) and Argo (which will cover the Visayas and Mindanao) will hire the warehousing and trucking services of other companies in the regions and provinces.
Dousing concerns that the hired logistics firms are inferior by industry standards, Jimenez said they are on the list of forwarders accredited by the Philippine Airlines, indicating reliability.
“So the companies, even though they are small—a point made by the article—and seem to be not raking in lot of money does not really matter because their track record seem to speak for itself.
“In fact, one of these companies was already used by Smartmatic in the ARMM elections and they performed well. So, at this point, there really seems to be no reason for us to doubt the ability of these corporations, these companies, to perform as they have represented themselves to Smartmatic,” Jimenez explained.
Jimenez pointed out that the Comelec has no hand in the hiring of the forwarding firms as this is part of Smartmatic’s “deliverables” as stated in the automation contract.
Under the contract, Smartmatic will take charge of delivering the machines to the more than 76,000 polling precincts nationwide and retrieving these after the elections.
As for the layers of subcontractors, Jimenez said the setup is part of a normal business.
“What matters is that they guarantee the performance of the task that they’re contracted to do and I believe we are amply covered in case of loss or destruction of the goods and that we will be able to recover from that if ever that happens. Ultimately what I’m saying is there’s nothing irregular about this arrangement. It is normal business for companies to really tap local companies to help with the forward shipment,” he said. (Newsbreak)