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Dec 03rd
Comelec warned of dire consequences of PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Bobby Reyes   
Thursday, 17 December 2009 08:03
Comelec warned of dire consequences of ‘No Election’ By MARIO B. CASAYURAN December 17, 2009, 5:28pm Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Thursday that the Commission on Elections (Comelec), faced with problems of delayed deliveries of automated machines, must ensure clean, honest, and credible elections in 2010 whether it is done manually or through computerized voting, saying chaos could result if the elections do not push through as scheduled. The Senate chief stressed this after Comelec officials, led by Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, attended a joint congressional oversight committee on automated elections, assured Senate officials that there would be computerized elections next year. Sarmiento also assured the legislators that the Comelec is preparing contingency plans for the scheduled 2010 elections. Comelec officials said in the event that the computers to be used in the automated polls do not arrive on time, they could start the shift from automated to manual elections at least two months before the May 10 elections. Senator Francis ‘’Chiz’’ Escudero, co-chairman of the joint committee, maintained that Comelec officials must prepare for manual elections should a full or partial automated election is not possible. The Smartmatic consortium, the principal contractor of the poll automation project, had failed in its three promises to make deliveries of some or even half of the 82,000 automated voting machines since November 15. Cagayan de Oro city Rep. Rufus Rodriguez has asked for a copy of the Comelec-Smartmatic contract for legislators to check on the penalties should Smartmatic fail to deliver its automation project. Rodriguez said the March 10 deadline set by Comelec to shift from automatic to manual is too long. ‘’Failure of no election would extend the terms of everybody,’’ Rodriquez, a former San Sebastian college of law dean, stressed. Makati City Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr., for his part told the poll officials not to throw the towel yet on automated elections, adding that the poll body ‘’should do its best.’’ Escudero was surprised to learn that it is possible that Smartmatic could evade sanctions should the automation do not push through because these re-settings of deadlines were mutually agreed upon by the parties. In case the Comelec fails to implement an automated voting system, the poll body could draw needed funds to revert to manual elections from the P11 billion that Congress appropriated for the automated election project. There is no need for an act of Congress to shift the mode of elections from automated to manual, Enrile explained. Of the P11 billion election budget, P7 billion was earmarked for a fully automated voting system. Enrile also said that he is against a partial automated election because it would open itself to allegations that those who led in the voting could be accused of having rigged the voting. Stressing that a no-election situation in the country would be a ‘’very costly proposition,’’ Enrile said he is still hopeful that the Comelec would be able to undertake an automated election system.

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