First poll machines to be shipped out Wednesday
KIMBERLY JANE TAN
The Kalayaan Islands in western Philippines will be the first area to receive the machines that will be used in the first ever nationwide automated elections on May 10.
The shipment of two Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines would be carried out by forwarder Ace Logistics on Wednesday, according to Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
“As we speak, the preparations are ongoing for the turnover of the PCOS machines,” Larrazabal, who heads the Comelec steering committee on poll automation, told reporters in an interview Tuesday.
One of the machines will be used in the actual elections, while the other one will be a spare.
They will be initially shipped to the forwarder’s hub in Palawan, where preparations will also be done to transport them to the Kalayaan Islands.
The actual shipment to Kalayaan Islands will be done by the end of April through a Philippine Navy ship, which only travels to the area twice a month, Larrazabal said. The units will be brought straight to the precinct, or the multi-purpose hall in Barangay Pagasa, where they will be under tight security by the military, police, and Comelec personnel.
At present, the machines are stored in the warehouse of technology provider Smartmatic in Cabuyao, Laguna.
Larrazabal said they decided to ship the first voting machines to Kalayaan Islands because it is the farthest of all the Philippine islands. The area has 299 registered voters, according to Comelec data.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the 299 include the soldiers who are stationed in the area. Majority of the civilian population on the island are fishermen.
Jimenez said extra care would be given to the machines given the unpredictable weather condition in the area.
Larrazabal assured that all the 82,000 machines would be shipped to their designated areas three to seven days before the elections for the testing and sealing. Of the number, 6,000 units will be used as spares.
The Comelec has enlisted the services of forwarding firms Germalin Enterprises (National Capital Region), Ace Logistics (North and South Luzon), and Argo Forwarders (Visayas and Mindanao) for the transportation of the poll machines. – KBK/RSJ, GMANews.TV