The Commission on Elections in Dumaguete City reported yesterday that 266 Precinct Count Optical Scan machines for Negros Oriental and Siquijor provinces for the May 13 polls are missing.
This was discovered during the inventory yesterday at the warehouse of the 2GO Express forwarding company, where it was found that only 932 PCOS units had arrived from Bacolod City on Tuesday.
The Comelec said it expects 1,218 or more PCOS machines, including those for contingencies, for Negros Oriental and Siquijor.
Dumaguete Elections Officer Jerome Brillantes, who appeared upset over the discovery, said officials of 2GO, the cargo forwarder of the Comelec for the Visayas and Mindanao, have a lot of explaining to do.
The PCOS machines, loaded in three 20-footer container vans, were escorted by 18 policemen from the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office.
The inventory showed the 266 missing units include 92 for Dumaguete, 74 for Bais City; Jimalalud, 29; Siaton, 57, all in Negros Oriental, and 14 units for Enrique Villanueva town in Siquijor province.
Another 20 PCOS machines for Basay town were also not among those inventoried yesterday, but was later discovered to have arrived Tuesday. but Comelec officials and representatives from the media and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting were not informed about it.
The units, labeled as “loose cargo”, were in another container van with the batteries for the automated machines, and other freight not for the elections.
Comelec records show that Negros Oriental has 1,076 clustered voting precincts, and Siquijor has 142. Each clustered precinct will have one PCOS machine, with contingency units.
Meanwhile, Brillantes said he is optimistic that election materials and equipment for the May 13 polls will arrive ahead of the May 4 final testing and sealing of the PCOS machines. He said their target for the deployment of the machines to towns and cities is May 2.
Meanwhile, 2GO Dumaguete operations supervisor Macophil Curativo said they have no control on the deliveries since they are only at the receiving end.
Curativo said it is their main office in Manila that has control over the release of the election equipment and other paraphernalia.
Meanwhile, the police may not be able to provide escort in case of another transport of election materials this week, as Vice President Jejomar Binay is expected to arrive in the province today, NOPPO deputy director, Supt. Alet Virtucio, said.*JFP/JG
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