Solon joins call to reuse VCMs in 2025 polls

June 24, 2024 Jester P. Manalastas 199 views

RIZAL Rep. Emigdio “Dino” Tanjuatco III has joined the call to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to consider reusing its existing vote-counting machines (VCMs) in next year’s midterm polls to save some money.

According to Tanjuatco, the government would be able to save some P8 billion which can be spent on much-needed public goods and services.

Tanjuatco made the suggestion following concerns on the alleged unreliability of the new “hybrid” voting and counting system contracted by the Comelec casting a shadow on the less-than-a-year of preparations for the national and local elections in May 2025.

The lawmaker has echoed the suggestion of fellow legislators who are pushing for the use of the 97,000 VCMs earlier bought from Smartmatic.

“Instead of spending so much money on an untested AES, which greatly risks failing the Filipino electorate, why not reuse the VCMs in the Comelec’s possession? These machines are still covered by warranty until next year,” Tanjuatco pointed out.

“Reusing these VCMs is a very viable option given the government’s present challenges in providing critical funds to support social amelioration, food security and universal health care,” the solon added.

For Tanjuatco, the existing VCMs are the most practical solution that can put an end to the flurry of issues being raised against the Comelec-Miru deal.

“The VCMs had been verified to be in working condition, as after retrieval, each VCM was inspected individually and restored to perfect condition, as validated by the Comelec itself,” Tanjuatco noted.

The Comelec’s VCMs also have a track record to speak of, hence will uphold election integrity.

“For the 2025 elections, the voting machine will be used as an optical scanner, allowing the Comelec to utilize its existing machines. The VCM inventory complies with 95 percent of the requirements for the optical scanner functionality, as specified in the AES’ TOR,”

He further said that the machines have been tested and they perform well. Only 1.8 percent of these VCMs experienced issues in the past elections, which is better than expected. For comparison, deploying 100,000 MacBooks can result in up to 10 percent experiencing issues; for laptops with Microsoft software, it can be even higher — up to 20 percent.

“We enjoin the Comelec to heed the call of a growing number of legislators urging the poll body to instead reuse its own VCMs in the 2025 polls. The billions of pesos in savings can bridge the budgetary gaps in essential services that the government is mandated to provide,” Tanjuatco said.

Citing reports Tanjuatco said that the P18-billion contract between the Comelec and Miru Systems Co. Ltd. does not comply with the terms of reference (TOR) of the automated election system (AES).

Specifically, Tanjuatco had questioned the integrity of vote-counting as he personally saw that Miru’s prototype machine read crumpled, marked and torn sample ballots during the demo in February.