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The consortium that will help the government automate the May 10 elections has beaten the February 28 deadline to deliver the more than 82,000 machines that will be used in the important political exercise.

Smartmatic Asia Pacific president Cesar Flores on Sunday said the last batch of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, consisting of 13,580 units, arrived in the country on Saturday, February 27.

"We are proud to announce that all the PCOS machines are already in the Philippines, and the implementation calendar is being kept as planned," Flores said in a statement.

A number of factors, including shipping conditions and costly transport, had caused several delays in the delivery of machines from Suzhou in China in the past.

Under the contract, Smartmatic and its local partner Total Information Management (TIM) Corp. will be slapped with a daily fine of P7.5 million until the delivery is completed once it misses the February 28 deadline.

In the statement, Flores noted that they were still able to deliver the last batch of the machines one day before the prescribed date. "We reiterate our commitment to the Filipino people: the automation system will provide fast and accurate elections," he said.

More than 68,000 PCOS units are being stored in a warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna where they will undergo a series of tests, according to Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose Melo.

Comelec awarded Smartmatic with the P7.2-billion contract to produce 82,200 PCOS machines and a P243-million contract to manufacture the ballot boxes for the May polls.

Only about 76,000 of the 82,200 purchased poll machines will be used in the elections because each clustered precinct will need only one unit. The rest will be used as spares.

There are 50,723,734 registered voters. As of February 25, a total of 6,037,038 ballots have been printed by the Comelec. - KBK, GMANews.TV