COSTING a billion pesos in taxpayers' money, the so-called precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines are not glitch-proof after all and may not perform or function well come election time in May, this after the available machines were tested by technicians in the presence of Comelec's officials. This scenario may be validated during their implementation a little over three months from now as the election body awaits delivery of the bulk of the contracted machines from Smartmatic, the contractor which bagged the expensive contract.

To be sure, Comelec has laid out (daw) a sure fire contingency plan: manual counting, the archaic style of ascertaining the results and which usually takes months to finish, not to mention the protests and counter-protests which attend every electoral exercise. So what to expect?

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The Filipino electorate might as well brace for the worse. There is no reason to gloat over the automated machines since they falter most of the time. One important factor should be looked into and this is the adequacy of the power supply on election day, and days after the big event. What if outages occur during the counting and tabulation? Would the backup generator sets (if there are any, but I doubt if they would be available) perform as well and adequate as the electric power? And the machine operators? Can they function long and well or will they also falter as the bumbling machines they are assigned to operate?

By now, we should know the tentativeness of the automated poll machines. Whether or not they function well, considering their gargantuan capital outlay, that remains to be proven.

The traditional politicians, of course, do not worry. They have the money to bribe the machine operators as they do pay off even watchers and inspectors. There is one municipal mayor who brags that should he lose on the precinct level, he can win at the Comelec tabulation. He has proofs to buttress his claim, as was proven in previous elections. So, what are the automated poll machines for? If we recall sequences of events concerning Comelec, we see that this constitutional body has never had a good card playing on its side. Every election year, it is beset with problems, ranging from financial to the most trivial of things. Ayayay, kailan pa ba tayo aasenso sa botohan at bilangan?

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One stop shop cum jobs fair. This is one activity the LGU of Mabalacat should pay attention to and focus its resources on. Today, some 14 local employers and about seven or eight licensed manpower agencies sending workers overseas will converge at the old municipal hall grounds in Barangay Poblacion to do interviews on applicants seeking greener pastures abroad and on local sites. The local firms are: Protemps, Nanox, Faith in God, Hausland, Gain Manpower, Puregold, Makro, Asiapro, Aimstaff, New Asia Spa based in O'Donnell, Capas, Sanyo Phils-Tarlac, Poongsan Microtec, Axis Global Technologies, TeleArk and Cyber City Teleservices Inc. The deployment agencies are: Mardel International, Mabuhay International, Krona International, G & A International, International Resource Development Service, Neostar, Cleopatra International and Maritime Academy of Asia and Pacific.

Applicants are advised to come early although the event may start at 9 a.m., and may end at 3:00 p.m. Invited to this affair dubbed Handog ni Mayor Morales in time for the Mabalacat fiesta celebrations are Mayor Boking himself, Vice Mayor Pros Lagman, members of the Sangguniang Bayan, the town's 27 barangay chairmen, Dole, POEA and representatives of the NBI Central Luzon office and NSO Central Luzon.