ONLY nine out of the 10 presidential candidates were invited by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to visit the National Printing Office (NPO) and the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna on March 11.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said they have invited all the presidential aspirants except for Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) standard-bearer Vetallano Acosta.

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He said they did not invite Acosta since there were reports that his party mates want to disqualify him from the presidential race.

“His party mates want to disqualify him. (Jay) Sonza and other KBL officials are saying that he is not a serious candidate,” the Comelec chief said.

The Comelec early this week started sending out letters to presidential and vice-presidential candidates inviting them to go to the NPO and the warehouse for them to see how the printing of the ballots are done and to check on other preparations the poll body is engaged with in connection with the forthcoming polls.

“This is by strict invitation only. All the others were invited on March 11,” Melo said.

However, the poll body official said they have not received a reply from any of the candidates.

Melo is hoping that the May 10, 2010 national position aspirants would take time out in joining them to see the facilities and their preparations for the elections.

“We just want them to see it for themselves because it’s enlightening when you see the preparations for the elections,” Melo said.

Last week, the members of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) visited both facilities.

3 forwarding companies

Meanwhile, Melo revealed that Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) has hired the services of three forwarding companies that will deliver the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in different areas in the country.

The companies, Germalin Enterprises, Argo Forwarders and Ace Logistics will be the ones that will transport the machines and other election paraphernalia in connection with the May 10 polls.

Each company will have a designated region, Germalin for Luzon, Argo for Visayas and Ace for Mindanao.

The firms will store the election materials to a warehouse in each region before transporting them to the polling precincts days before the scheduled elections.

“These companies have a reputation as forwarders. They are seasoned and experienced forwarders,” Melo said.

The PCOS machines, ballot boxes, pre-printed ballots and other election paraphernalia must be at the polling precincts three days before the May 10, 2010 elections,” Melo said.

A total of 76,000 machines and ballot boxes will be utilized in the May 10 polls.

The remaining 6,000 of the 82,200 election machines leased from Smartmatic-TIM will serve as spare machines.

Originally, it was 2Go Shipping Corp., a subsidiary of Aboitiz group of companies, that will be the carrier of the machines but it backed out from the multi-million contract.

The PCOS machines, ballot boxes, pre-printed ballots and other election paraphernalia must be at the polling precincts three days before the May 10, 2010 elections. (FP/Sunnex)