Comelec satisfied with PCOS field tests


09:46 PM January 26th, 2013

By: Tina G. Santos, January 26th, 2013 09:46 PM

MANILA, Philippines—Except for the slow transmission of test results in some areas, the Commission on Elections  reported Saturday that the field tests conducted on the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in different places in the country was successful.

According to Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, he considered Saturday’s field tests a success because the electronic transmission of data went well with majority of the PCOS machines transmitting test results 100 percent.

“We are satisfied with the test,” Jimenez said.

He explained that the machines that have yet to fully transmit results could not be considered failures  right away because there were  contingency measures in place.

“We don’t call it a failure because we have a contingency such as replacing the SIM card,” Jimenez said, adding that the field tests somehow gave them an idea of what they can expect from the electronic transmission come the May 2013 elections.

The field tests were conducted in the National Capital Region, particularly Taguig and Pateros; Benguet, Palawan, Cebu, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Sur, South Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Antique.

The procedure tested  the capability of the PCOS machines to transmit the results of the elections, Jimenez said, adding that the field tests were aimed at simulating the automation stages on Election Day and allowing  the election body to improve the system.

“The purpose of the field test is to check the transmission of data from precinct PCOS to the municipal and then from the municipal to the central server plus PCOS to central… all the transmissions of the PCOS to municipality 100 percent,” he said in an interview.

“From municipal to central, I think there are only four that have yet to fully transmit out of the 18 municipalities, so 14 transmitted 100 percent. From PCOS to central 36 (areas), 8 have yet to fully transmit, so 36 minus 8 that means 28 transmitted 100 percent,” added Jimenez.

“This is a very good indication because our downstream or the PCOS to municipal is in very good shape—we think that because of its performance we are more confident with the electronic transmission,” he said.

Meanwhile,  the Automated Election System (AES) Watch scored the Comelec for not allowing the media to observe the field tests.

In a letter to Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes and his commissioners, AES Watch asked why the Comelec treated the tests as an internal matter, saying it was important for the public to observe the critical process of testing the reliability of the PCOS machines in transmitting results.

Jimenez urged those groups who are complaining for not being able to witness the field tests to just observe the mock elections slated for next week.

“We did not allow coverage at this point because a lot of activities involved in field testing are internal to the system,” said Jimenez. “We think it’s not that critical at this stage because it’s precisely part of the shakedown process. That’s why we’re opening the mock polls to everyone. Whatever is the result of the field test will be seen during the mock polls and it will be seen in the right context, unlike now when you will just observe the transmission of results.”

He said the Comelec was open to the idea of conducting another field test.

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