By BABYLYN KANO-OMAR, VERA Files
It's all systems go for elections in Tawi-Tawi with the arrival of PCOS machines. Photo …Bongao, Tawi-Tawi— The delivery of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines for the nine towns of the province finally pushed through despite coordination problems with Airfreight2100 (Air 21) and strong rains that lasted hours Wednesday.
The boats hired by Air 21 left the Bongao port for Mapun, Taganak and other island municipalities around 4:00p.m. when the skies finally cleared.
PCOS machines for the towns of Panglima Sugala and Bongao, which are both accessible by land, are scheduled for delivery Thursday.
Election officers have earlier voiced apprehension about Air 21’s ability to deliver PCOS machines on time during the Command Conference Monday.
Panglima Sugala Election Officer Derwin Salasa expressed concern when the Air 21 representative was not able to attend the command conference May 6.
Salasa said Air 21 should have been able to answer questions such as when the 252 PCOS machines in the province are to be delivered.
Comelec awarded a P1.4 billion contract to Air21 and To Go Express to deliver PCOS machines.
Provincial Election Supervisor Muamar Guyo tried to ease apprehensions by saying the Commission on Elections is prepared for the elections. He also assured the EOs that election paraphernalia will arrive on time.
One PCOS will be on standby for each municipality, Guyo said.
In a separate interview, Comelec Regional Director Ray Sumalipao also said that the only problem that they are anticipating in Tawi-Tawi on election day is the weather.
The lack of coordination however was evident in Simunul where the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) monitored activities. The election paraphernalia were temporarily stored at the municipal hall after delivery because the Election Officer and Treasurer who waited since early morning at the office of the Provincial Election Officer in Bongao were not informed about the schedule of departure of the boat hired by Air 21.
Tawi-Tawi is the only province in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao which is not included in the list of watchlist areas.
On May 2, a provincial electoral security summit was conducted at the Beachside Inn Hotel and Restaurant.
Participants from police, military, Comelec, Department of Education and the Department of Interior and Local Governemnt identified issues and concerns that might disrupt peace and order.
Participants signed a peace covenant during the summit to show support for safe and secure elections (SAFE) and clean, honest, accountable, meaningful and peaceful (CHAMP) national, ARMM and local elections on May 13.
(ARMM WATCH is a project of VERA Files in partnership withMindaNews and I-Watch. It is supported by The Asia Foundation and Australian Agency for International Development. VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)