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Comelec Cebu declares 100% readiness for today’s elections

First Posted 07:15:00 05/10/2010

The country's first ever automated elections is on track in the province despite some minor problems and some defective precint count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

As of 9 last night, all localities in Cebu have tested and sealed the PCOS machines to be used in today?s elections.

?The Commission on Elections is 100 percent ready for today?s election,? declared South and North district election officers Edwin Cadungog and Rudy Gilos, respectively, after the testing and sealing of PCOS machines went smoothly yesterday.

?Hundred percent ready gyud ta. No way nga mosibog pa ta, ? Gilos said.

Teachers, members of the Board of Election Inspectors and C-Cimpel witnessed the testing of the PCOS which started at 9 p.m.

Even though the testing and sealing of PCOS machines were succesful, some minor problems were encountered like machine shutdown when the thermal paper was used up and the BEI was not able to immediately have it replaced and some machines did not function immediately because the BEI did not press the button properly.

?Everything was okay. Mga minor problems ra man, like a ballot wa mabasa dayon, pero gidawat rapud siya later,? Cadungog said.

?Okay ra gyud kaayo ang testing( the testing is okay) but we just hope that on the actual election, di lang gyud ta mag-shutdown ang machine, kay magbalik-balik napud ta (the machine will not shutdown, for we'll do the process all over again,? Christy Agas of C-cimpel said.

A Cebu Normal University (CNU) teacher and one of the BEI's Dr. Virgilia Seguerra said they are more excited for todays election since there was no major problems that were encountered during the testing.

But she expressed fear of the possibility that polling precincts will be crowded with voters since there are at least 1,000 voters for each precinct.

?Sauna, 200 to 300 voters ra gani to every precincts, alas 3 sa hapon pa lang daghan pa kaayo ang wa kabutar, unsa na kaha karon? (Last elections, there were only 200 to 300 voters for every precinct, and yet by 3:00 p.m. there were stilla lot of voters who have not voted yet, how much more this time?),? Seguerra said.

But Gilos said he has instructed BEIs to determine the number of voters in their precincts and divide it by the number of hours allocated for voting, so that BEIs will know how many minutes they can give to each voter.

Gilos said voting will start at 7 a.m. and will end at 6 p.m., But if there are still voters by 6 p.m., those who are within the 30 meters radius of the polling precincts, will be placed in a holding area and will still be allowed to vote.

He said the BOIs could warn voters intentionally delaying the voting by staying long inside the precinct than the allocated time.

During the testing, the count by the machines was accurate when compared to manual counting.

A total of 560 PCOS machines have been distributed to all the precincts of Cebu City. If one malfunctions, Gilos said that there are still 39 spare or back-up machines.

The Comelec has 250 spare PCOS machines for Cebu as back up to the 3, 063 machines allocated to the province.

But in Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu City, three defective PCOS machines were discovered yesterday in each city during the testing.

In Mandaue City, which received 25 PCOS machines, one defective PCOS machine each was found in Labogon Elementary School, Tabok II Elementary School and Cabancalan I Elementary School. The defects were traced to the batteries of the PCOS.

In Lapu-Lapu City, one defective machine was found each at Mactan Elementary School, Calawisan Elementary School and Pajo National High School.

The Comelec said all PCOS machines and their compact flash cards have already deployed to all the 3,063 precincts across the province.

?We are 98 percent ready. Problems were contained, issues were resolved. (Our concerns are) only the implementation (of the elections) and some isolated problems,? said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez during a press conference at the poll body's provincial office at the Capitol compound yesterday.

Jimenez, who is going to different parts of the country to monitor the conduct of the elections, said their main concern is the final testing and sealing of all PCOS machines across the country.

He said that results of the automated polls would be known quickly as long as their will be no glitches in the transmission of the results.

In Cebu, the results are expected to be known at the central canvassing center at the Capitol social hall at around 10 p.m. until Tuesday morning.

The public can view the canvassing results in a huge white screen mounted at the right side of the stage.

Comelec-Central Visayas regional director Dennis Ausan expressed hope the elections would be successful.

?We are crossing our fingers crossed that there would be no more problems. We are confident that by Sunday, all PCOS machines will already be tested and sealed,? Ausan said.

The Comelec has allocated 5,061 PCOS machines for Central Visayas with 408 as back up.

Bohol province became the first province in the region to finish the testing and sealing of PCOS machines. Bohol has 1,327 PCOS machines for 47 towns and one city.

In Negros Oriental, all the PCOS machines in the second and third districts were successfully tested and sealed, said provincial election supervisor Eddie Aba.

In Siquijor, provincial election supervisor Leandro Magusara reported that they have finished testing and sealing in at least three towns- Larena, Enrique Villanueva and San Juan.

Officials of Police Regional Office in Central Visayas and Cebu City Police Office also expect a successful and peaceful elections today.

Cebu City Police Chief Patrocinio Comendador conducted a final command conference yesterday in preparation for today?s elections. /WITH JEMARIE AUGUSTO, JHUNNEX NAPALLACAN AND CHRIS LIGAN

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