"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Poll upgrade before Cha-cha

Reforms in the electoral system should be implemented first before pursuing efforts to amend the Constitution, Sen. Richard Gordon said yesterday.

Gordon, as chairman of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws, emphasized that reforms such as revamping the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the electoral system are "a condition sine qua non to Charter change (Cha-cha)."

With the national and local elections scheduled for next year, Gordon said Congress and MalacaƱang should jointly focus on pushing for an automated electoral system.

"Charter change should be considered only after the 2007 national and local elections. The impending 2007 elections should be the primary focus of our country today," Gordon said.

He stressed the importance of providing an automated electoral system to ensure clean, honest and credible elections. Gordon negated the possibility of holding a plebiscite unless Comelec is reformed and an automatic voting mechanism is implemented.

"How can we have a reliable and trustworthy plebiscite when the integrity and credibility of the Comelec is still in question?" he asked.

Gordon has sponsored a bill in the Senate calling for the establishment of an automated electoral system, which would be partially implemented during the 2007 elections.

The bill is currently being tackled during the period of individual amendments and review by Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

Gordon vowed to complete the amendments and put the bill to a vote on third and final reading when Congress reconvenes on May 15.

"This uses the best technology available for elections and limits the amount of human handling of the ballots and thus assures the secrecy and sanctity of the ballots in order that the results of elections shall be fast, accurate and reflective of the genuine will of the people," he said.

Gordon noted the feverish attempts by Cha-cha advocates to pursue parliamentary elections by next year.

He said there are several parties "running amok with the Cha-cha train, blatantly and illegally, both in the House and through a signature campaign.

But even assuming that all is valid, it will still come down to a vote by the people whether they want the new constitution or not.

The Philippine Star