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Palace: Up to Comelec how to handle 2016 polls.

MANILA -- The 2016 general elections should push through, according to Malacanang.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Wednesday asserted the electoral process was constitutionally mandated and everybody should comply with the Constitution.

We are very certain that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is very aware of its mandated role of making sure that elections happen in 2016, Lacierda said. As to how they will do it in the light of the Supreme Court decision, we will defer to them.

In a decision announced on Tuesday, the court nullified a P268-million midnight deal with Smartmatic for the repair and maintenance of 82,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, used in the 2010 and 2013 elections, in time for next year's presidential balloting.

As to whether it's manual or automated A| As to how they will handle 2016, again, we are not in a position to say. Being an independent constitutional commission, we will defer to them to ensure that elections happen, Lacierda said over Radyo ng Bayan.

Acting Comelec Chair Christian Robert Lim earlier said the poll body would rather hold manual elections than be compelled to postpone next year's polls, no elections, or No-El.

Manual polls, not 'No-El'

Manual elections is better than no elections, he told reporters. He said the Comelec will not allow a no election scenario from happening.

We don't want to go into a civil war because having no elections will be unacceptable to many, he said.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told reporters on Wednesday that a No-El scenario was unacceptable.

The Constitution provides that an election should be held every second Monday of May every three years for all positions below president and every six years for president, so that's what we will follow. If we postpone that even for one day, that's No-El, and it's not acceptable, said Jimenez.

Jimenez said, however, that while manual elections were an alternative, it was the least of Comelec's preference.

Holding a public bidding is an obvious option for the poll body considering that the SC scrapped the Comelec-Smartmatic deal due to the absence of a competitive bidding, so that's still possible, he said.

Jimenez said the Comelec would not allow the PCOS machines to be used without undergoing the required diagnosis, maintenance and refurbishment.

It's the presidential election, so it will be too big of a risk for us to use the PCOS machines without even knowing their present condition, said Jimenez.

Other options being looked into by the Comelec, he said, is the use of the 23,000 optical mark reader (OMR) machines currently being bid out as well as former poll Commissioner Gus Lagman's proposed Transparent and Credible Election System (TCrES).

Jimenez said the OMR machines could be utilized as the central count optical scan (CCOS) system, wherein the voting machines will be placed in every voting center, instead of in each polling precinct.

The TCrES, on the other hand, involves manual voting and counting while the transmission and canvassing shall be automated.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Apr 23, 2015
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