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The Philstar: Full delivery of poll machines vowed

By Sheila Crisostomo ,The Philippine Star Banner Headline, December 31, 2009

MANILA, Philippines - Smartmatic International Corp.-Total Information Management Corp. (TIM) assured the public yesterday that the manufacture of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines is now going full blast so all the units will be delivered in time for the 2010 polls.

Smartmatic-TIM president and chief executive officer Juan Villa said they would begin to deliver the rest of the 82,200 PCOS machines starting next week and would even be able to complete delivery one week ahead of the Feb. 21 deadline.

?We will be delivering at the rate of 9,600 PCOS units every week until the end of February. Our target is to deliver all the machines one week ahead of schedule,? he said in a press briefing.

Yesterday, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Jose Melo and Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal inspected the first batch of 4,000 units delivered by the joint venture Monday night.

Earlier in the day, 3,200 more units were shipped into the country from Smartmatic?s plant in Suzhou, China.

?We were there about two or three weeks ago. It?s a world-class facility... We won?t have problems with the production,? Villa said.

The joint venture had been contracted by the Comelec to supply the machines at a cost of P7.2 billion.

According to Melo, the arrival of the initial batch of 7,200 machines eliminated their fears that manual polls might have to be done in some parts of the country should the joint venture fail to deliver all the machines on time.

?Our level of confidence has gone up. I?ve been telling the Smartmatic-TIM officials ?I have to see the machines before they get paid,?? Melo said.

The machines will be kept in a warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna until the time when they will be shipped to some 40 regional hubs of the Comelec in April.

?(We?ll be doing this) so that they will be nearer the precincts. They will be dispersed all over the country. These are the facilities for deployment for the election day,? he added.

But prior to the polls, the machines will undergo various testing to determine if they can withstand the varying weather conditions and topography of the country.

After this, they will be configured to suit the needs of the election.

Malacañang, meanwhile, welcomed yesterday the arrival of the first batch of 4,000 PCOS machines to be used in the country?s first nationwide automated elections next year.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde and presidential economic spokesman Gary Olivar in separate statements reiterated the Palace?s continued backing for the computerization of the May 2010 elections.
?It?s a good sign that we may yet succeed in attaining our vision of automation for honest, orderly, peaceful and credible elections,? Remonde said.

Olivar said the expected arrival of more PCOS units in the coming weeks is a welcome development ?towards the fulfillment of automated elections as one of the President?s ?Beat the Odds? agenda.?With Paolo Romero