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Oct 24th
Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Senator Pimentel Deplores Decision to Scrap Automation of ARMM Elections
Senator Pimentel Deplores Decision to Scrap Automation of ARMM Elections PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Sunday, 20 April 2008 22:22

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Nene” Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today voiced apprehension that “dagdag-bawas” operators will again have a field day manipulating the August 11, 2008 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as a consequence of the unpopular decision of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to scrap the plan to automate the political exercise.


Mr. Pimentel warned that the public faith in the electoral process is bound to be further eroded if rampant fraud is repeated anew in the election of officials in the ARMM, which has earned the unsavory tag “cheating capital of the country.”

He said Congress is not inclined to support any proposal to postpone the regional election since this will not serve any useful purpose. The COMELEC had earlier floated the possibility of deferring the election by at least two months to give it more time to prepare for the automation plan.

“The COMELEC’s inability to computerize the ARMM election is unfortunate. Postponing the election may not be the answer,” Senator Pimentel said.

“Cleansing the area of too much violence, corruption and feudal warlordism should be priority.”

The COMELEC’s Bidding and Awards Committee recommended the dropping of the automation plan after none of the bidders were able to comply with the technical specifications.The poll body had planned to implement automation through two modes – the Direct Recording System (DRS) and the Optical Mark Reader.

With the scrapping of the automation plan, the COMELEC will revert to the cumbersome and fraud-prone manual system of voting. COMELEC Chairman Jose Melo, however, has made a commitment to work for the computerization of the 2010 national and local elections.

Senator Pimentel said no amount of explanation from the COMELEC for the failure of the automation plan can assuage the frustration of the people over their clamor to restore the integrity and credibility of the country’s badly discredited electoral system.

He said this failure is inexcusable considering that the law on automated electoral system had been in place for several years now and the government has spent billions of pesos for the program. In fact, he said the 1996 ARMM election was automated.

Congress enacted early last year passed a new law prescribing the automation of elections starting with the national and local elections in May 2007. But the automation of this political exercise was abandoned for lack of time to bid out and implement the project.

Had the May 2007 polls been automated, Senator Pimentel said the massive fraud that marred the senatorial elections in Maguindanao and other provinces in Mindanao would have been prevented.Mr. Pimentel said while administration senatorial candidates may have benefited from the rigging of poll results in Maguindanao, this is a pyrrhic gain because this had the effect of further unmasking the Arroyo administration as the perpetrator of electoral fraud.

The senator from Mindanao also expressed fears that the automation fiasco in the ARMM would affect the planned automation of the 2010 elections.

The ARMM polls would have served as a dry-run for the automated counting machines and other equipment to be used for the 2010 elections, Senator Pimentel said. # # #

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Last Updated on Sunday, 20 April 2008 22:28

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