Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Philippine Commission on Elections Strikes Historic P17.99 Billion Automation Deal with South Korean Firm

The evolution of election processes in the Philippines has reached a new milestone as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) inks a groundbreaking P17.99 billion deal with South Korea-based Miru Systems Co. Ltd. for the automation of the 2025 midterm elections. This partnership signifies the Philippines' continued commitment to strengthening the democratic process through technological enhancements.

As the sole bidder, Miru Systems has clinched the contract to provide a Full Automation System with Transparency Audit/Count (Fastrac) to Comelec. The deal will encompass the lease of 110,000 automated counting machines, complete election management systems, consolidation and canvassing systems, in addition to delivering ballot printing services, ballot boxes and other necessary peripherals.

Reminiscing on the past electoral journey, the Philippines automated its elections in 2010, pioneering a transformative leap in its democratic processes. Since this pivotal change, the country has smoothly conducted five national elections, witnessing substantial improvements across all key performance indicators following each election cycle. A testament to the technological leap is the significant surge in trust among the populace; from a mere 30% confidence level in manual elections, trust has soared above 80% after embracing election technology.

In 2022, a poll by Pulse Asia underscored the public's overwhelming support for the automated system, revealing that an impressive 90% of Filipino citizens advocate for the continued use of technology in the archipelago's electoral system.

As part of this deal, Miru Systems is set to provide not just hardware, but also customizable systems and specialized software aimed at ensuring the transparency and security of the voting process. Furthermore, the firm will offer comprehensive technical support for the leased machines and systems, showing a full spectrum of support for the election's success.

Despite its innovative prospects, the awarded contract has not been without dissent. Several watchdog groups have voiced concerns over past controversies surrounding Miru Systems's involvement in elections across various countries including Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Russia.

In response, Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia has given his reassurance, stating the poll body’s Special Bids and Awards Committee took cognizance of the allegations but nevertheless advocated for the South Korean firm based on its merit. Supporting their decision, Comelec was equipped with positive certifications from the electoral bodies of Congo and Iraq.

This strategic partnership between Comelec and Miru Systems is poised to usher in a new era for the Philippine elections, empowering the democratic voice of its people with precision, transparency, and unwavering trust in their electoral system.