PCOS operators need DOST accreditation

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LEGAZPI CITY (12-April-2013/PNA) – Operators of Precinct Count Optical Scanner (PCOS) machines in the forthcoming May 13 polls, usually chairpersons of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) of polling precincts, should be accredited by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

This was the announcement made over the week by DOST regional director Tomas Briñas based here as, he said, the agency is now on the accreditation process to certify operators on capability to operate the machine.

DOST, Briñas said, is the government agency responsible for accreditation of PCOS machine operators for the elections on May this year and the accreditation process in the region that involves examinations started last March 25.

He said the examinations are done in every province in batches, with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) determining the dates and the batch.

He said the COMELEC coordinated with the Department of Education (DepEd) in identifying possible PCOS operators, adding that usually the chairperson of the BEI is designated as the PCOS operator.

Getting the accreditation by passing the examination is easy as, according to Briñas, PCOS is not a complicated machine because it only performs scanning functions and those who know basic computer operations can certainly run it.

The DOST provided the questionnaire for the examination while the COMELEC provides the training for the BEIs in PCOS operations.

COMELEC regional director Romeo Fortes said training of all public school teachers who will serve as BEIs across the region will be completed within this week.

Apart from the basic operations of the PCOs, the teachers are also trained on the general guidelines formulated by the COMELEC to help the teachers on the rules and regulations governing the elections before, during and after its conduct, according to Fortes.

Board of Election Inspector Supervisors in each of the six provinces, seven cities and 102 municipalities of the Bicol region are supervising these activities and teachers are assured of honorarium for attending the training, he said.

Briñas said the DOST is also fielding quick response teams on election day to perform trouble shooting of PCOS in case of machine troubles as the BEIs are capable only of detecting PCOS malfunctions by performing diagnostics.

Through DOST-accredited PCOS operators, Briñas said, clean and honest elections are assured, given their knowledge and integrity to operate the machine that are 100-percent tamper-proof and free from any manipulation.

The machine’s security features include a source code that cannot be replaced and it will take some time to decode it, considering a million of possible combinations, Briñas said.

“With numerous PCOS machines scattered throughout the country on election day, it needs so much resources to launch massive manipulation of the PCOS,” he said.

The machine is set to zero into the initialization and if it malfunctions, it will be detected with the usual diagnostics and will be immediately replaced with a ready back-up, Briñas said.

Absence of electricity or power failure is also not a problem for PCOS, with its direct current back-up battery that is capable to power the machine for a maximum of 12 hours, he assured.

“It automatically switches on during power failure and can outlast the duration of voting hours and the counting process,” Briñas said.

Fake ballots will also not work on the PCOS as the official ballot has security features and fake ballots will not be read or it will even be rejected by the machine, he said, adding that the machines are “very reliable and accurate that give us an assurance of a credible and honest elections.”

He also assured the public that speculations on possibilities of jamming the operations of PCOS during the election on May 13 are baseless. (PNA)

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