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PIA Press Release
2010/05/11

Technical glitches delay elections in Basilan

By Rene V. Carbayas

Isabela City, Basilan (11 May) -- Technical glitches of most Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in Basilan's election on Monday caused much of the delays in the voting process as a whole.

Some district supervisors observed that if not for some malfunctions of the PCOS machines, the voting would have been smooth. Ballots rejection and paper jamming were the most common glitches of the PCOS.

Local Smartmatic technicians said that these were temporary setback that they could address. And that the patience of the teachers serving as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) helped a lot in reducing the tension inside the polling precincts as people outside gets impatient.

"There's the usual paper works required for BEIs. But the automation lessens our stress compared to the manual voting," one BEI said as affirmed by other teachers.

For the ordinary voter, the automation was quite shaky for a start but when one tries them out, it's a relief, except for the long lines that one should endure while waiting for your turn to vote and some problems with the PCOS machines.

The non-"techi" individuals however prefer the manual process of election. "The government spent billions of pesos for these machines that do not work well. If the government just gave the money to the people, at least one million for each Filipino, we could have been better," one voter said in the local dialect.

A number of voters and teachers agree that clustering of 4 to 5 precincts made the whole process difficult. The automation may have lightened the workload of the teachers, but with technical glitches, it became more difficult for the voter.

One district supervisor believes that about 500 to 600 registered voters in one clustered precincts are manageable for teachers. And they hope that COMELEC goes back to the original voting period which is from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. only to give teachers ample time to accomplish the paper works.

In Isabela City, the election was generally peaceful. Isabeleņos are thankful to the efforts of the military and police in securing the city in spite of the infamous attack of Isabela last April 13, 2010.

PPCRV volunteer Miriam Suacito said that for most part of Basilan, the military has excellently managed the local security that ensures peaceful elections in the province.

If in the previous election people here do not trust much the local COMELEC for a credible result, with the fast transmission of results as monitored on TV, people's confidence on the automated process are now increasing.

However, people are frustrated over the rampant vote-buying in Basilan. People feel COMELEC is inutile to address this issue as no one gets punished for this election offence. (PIA9-BST) [top]

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