Malacanang,Congress Welcome PCOS Ruling

MANILA, Philippines --- Both Malacanang and Congress welcomed the Supreme Court decision allowing the Commission on Election to proceed with its purchase of vote-counting machines used in the previous elections for use in the May 2013 polls.

"We welcome the timeliness of the Supreme Court decision as it now ensures the legal certainty of the automation of the 2013 elections," said Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte said.

Prior to the SC decision, President Aquino indicated he favored the automation of the 2013 elections using the PCOS machines similar to the previous polls, warning that a return to manual counting system would make it susceptible to manipulation of votes by unscrupulous politicians and their supporters.

Voting 11-3, the Supreme Court upheld the legality of the contract between the Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM Corporation for the purchase of 82,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines worth P1.83 billion.

Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas, chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability, said, "This will ensure the credibility of the elections. The PCOS will ensure that there will be no cheating."

Some concerned groups earlier questioned the validity of the purchase of the PCOS machines amid concerns the units suffered technical breakdowns in the 2010 presidential elections.

Meanwhile, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, chairman of the House committee on public information, challenged the Comelec to address other issues hounding the country's electoral system with questions over the automation of the 2013 polls already resolved.

"It will help ensure honest and credible elections, but Comelec and law enforcement agencies have to address other issues like the proliferation of private armies and the issue of vote buying," Evardone said.

Citing the need for automated polls, Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, vice chairperson of the House committees on appropriations; national defense and security; and public order and safety, said, "our experience in the last election can attest to that; tension diffused right after the counting."

Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones, vice chairperson of the House committee on science and technology, said, "I believe in the relevance of modern technology to correct the ills of our electoral system. The 2010 national elections proved that with lesser human intervention in the counting of ballots, results appeared more credible and acceptable."

There were four petitions lodged against the Comelec-Smartmatic-TIM contract. They were filed by the AES Watch, the Solidarity for Sovereignty (S4S), and the group led by Davao City Archbishop Fernando Capalla.

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