Comelec chair Melo now getting his ‘40 winks’
By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Jose Melo is sleeping better these days.
Thanks to the delivery of Smartmatic-TIM’s 82,000 vote counting machines and other election paraphernalia well ahead of the May elections.
Melo said Monday he was less anxious about possible glitches in the country’s first nationwide automated balloting after the Comelec’s private partner delivered the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines on time.
Speaking at the anniversary of the Police Security and Protection Group (PSPG) in Camp Crame, the retired Supreme Court justice said he used to have nightmares about the automated elections.
“Slowly, the nightmares are turning into a dream and I invite you to share that dream with me,” Melo told the policemen.
He also said that the National Printing Office (NPO) was printing 900,000 ballots a day, fast enough to meet the goal of having 50 million ballots ready by April 25.
This was confirmed by Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal in a separate press briefing.
Larrazabal said the Comelec had printed 26.278 million ballots as of Monday morning, passing the 50-percent mark.
Fifth printer added
A fifth printer was added to speed up the process, he said. There would be no rest for the printers throughout Holy Week, except perhaps on Good Friday, he added.
“We are looking at stopping on Friday, but that’s something we’ll be discussing with NPO officials,” Larrazabal said.
“We have everything we need for the elections and we are just waiting for the completion of the printing of the ballots,” Melo said.
Marking pens, batteries for the PCOS machines, laptops and other election paraphernalia had also been delivered, he said.
Melo underscored the role of the Philippine National Police not only in security, but in the delivery of the PCOS machines.
He said PNP units would be “principally” tasked with transporting the PCOS machines from the Comelec’s warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna, to hubs and sub-hubs where they would be kept at least three days before the May 10 elections.
The policemen would bring the PCOS machines to the precincts on election day.
“As [the machines] are being transported and brought to the precincts, the PNP would be the primary security agency,” Melo told reporters.
For his part, PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa said he had ordered all regional police commanders to come up with security plans for transporting the PCOS machines.
He sought the help of the public, barangay watchmen and the private sector in ensuring the orderly transport of the machines. With a report from Leila B. Salaverria