ON POLL AUTOMATION
SEN. GORDON: I am happy to tell you that the automation election law has been ratified, the bicameral conference report has been ratified by the Senate this morning and by the house also early this morning. This automated election law will mean na mababawasan na seguro yung dagdag-bawas o baka mawala na talaga all together. This will be held in two provinces and two cities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. We are going to have a random audit of the election in every area so it can be sure and assure that the machines are working. There will be an advisory council to advise the COMELEC on the kind of technology needed and afterwards a technology committee will be there to advise the Comelec on the machines that have been bought. If the Comelec doesn’t like the advise, they must do so in writing para at least the public is made aware at malaman kaagad ng publiko na mayroon sigalot doon sa pagkuha ng makina. Ang mahalaga dito ngayon, you can now transmit the results of the election which will really kill dagdag-bawas within the hour after the closure ay mapapadala kaagad yun resulta all the way to the world hindi lang doon sa munisipyo, probinsya, Comelec kundi maging sa lahat ng pahayagan o media all over the world as well.
This is really a landmark piece of legislation and it allows for automated systems to be used and of course ang maganda dito, the Comelec will have a parallel safeguard because not only are you going to have the citizen’s arms, the technical committee but also you will have a oversight committee that will have to report to the Senate and House on the success or the kakulangan ng system.
Q: Initially saan po ang pilot testing ng automation?
GORDON: It will be up to the Comelec. The two provinces and the two highly urbanized cities, it could be one province and one component city so you could have that one for example if they choose Cagayan that has a province and a component city. They can still choose two more highly urbanized cities. Ibig sabihin n’yan they will try to get a good sample of an outlining province like Siquijor or even Basilan or a very highly urbanized city like Quezon City.
Q: Saan yun mock election?
GORDON: The mock election, it will be up to the Comelec to choose. They could do it in a university, in a student council election for example, they could try the machines there. It will really all be up to them in accordance with the advise given by the responsible elements in our community and the advisory council and technical committee but it is the Comelec that is fully in charge still because that is what the Constitution provides.
I am aware of the fact that the Comelec has been preparing for this even before the bill was passed. I know this because I spoke with Chairman Abalos in spite of the seeming word war between us….so I know he has been prepared.ON CHA-CHA
Q: Bibigyan daw kayo ng invitation this Friday para dumalo?
GORDON: As you know, you can not do that by invitation. The strictures of the Constitution require that both houses meet formally jointly or a resolution is filed by the Lower House on a amendment then it is approved by 3/4 then it is send to the Senate and that will mean that we also go to the strictures of a bill. In these two scenarios, they can amend the Constitution but they can not do it by invitation because after all when you amend the Constitution, meeting jointly, you still have to vote separately and when you meet jointly the strictures or the protocol for who is going to be the chairman? How many committees are you going to have? All these things have to be organized.
All of you are aware of the fact that we are still going to call for a committee hearing on the Constituent Assembly bill filed by the House and also a bill filed by Sen. Flavier on Con-con. At the same time, there is another bill filed by Sen. Enrile that says Con-Ass.
On Monday, the senators will call a meeting right here in the Session hall inviting people like Mike Velarde, Bishop Lagdameo, Joaquin Bernas, Deans of the different law schools and the communities such as the IBP and even the studentry.ON SENATORS AND PGMA “DINNER MEETING”
Q: Sir, what happened in last nights dinner with GMA?
GORDON: I went there and I was supposed to go to Jake Lagunera’s party. I had a previous party that was my class party in Ateneo but I was reminded that I should go there and I did because he is a long time friend and I was surprised when I got there and the President was there along with ten other senators.
Nonetheless , it was a very candid conversation after dinner that we had. Sen Angara and myself told the President that we feel that any Constitutional change could occur after the elections. We were asked about parliamentarism, the others opted for parliamentary, Sen. Recto and I opted for a presidential system –bicameral, but with the party system that doesn’t allow switching of parties without penalties. So it was a very candid conversation. The President expressed her desire na kung pwedeng matapos na yun cha-cha this year. We told her in no certain terms that this is going to be difficult. It is going to be difficult for us and we told her that we have already two senate resolutions all signed unanimously practically by the whole Senate that says we are not going to cha-cha unless it is done with two houses voting separately and a ¾ vote. She asked SP Villar whether he could still try to convince the Senate and of course politely SP Villar said he will try.
Q: Sir sino yung mga senador na dumalo sa dinner?
GORDON: Sina Sens. Enrile, Recto, Pangilinan, Flavier, Joker, Angara , Revilla, Lapid SP Villar and me.
Q: Wala pa ba kayong nakikitang dahilan to bring it up right away to the high court?
GORDON: As far as we are concerned, the changing of the rules in the House is their own business, when they start amending the Constitution that will be, I suppose, sufficient cause. We have discussed this in caucus yesterday and we have made certain preparations with that. Should that event occur.
Q: This should be the interpretation of the Constitution voting as one, immediately needs clarification from the high court?
GORDON: We could do that but like I said there is still a process going on here in a co-equal branch of the government called the Senate. And in a co-equal branch of the Congress which is two houses. We are still, as a co-equal branch, reviewing the bills filed on Constituent Assembly and Constitutional Convention. I even dare say here that the Lower House is actually in estoppel because they recognize the fact that the resolution must be approved by the Senate and that is why they sent a copy of that resolution and even asked us to meet and we did. And afterwards we met with the House as you all aware off. We met in Polo Club and Shangrila and we told them that when they have the votes on their amendments then we will act on it. So far they have not shown us any resolution that shows they have gotten the 195 requirement or their ¾ votes.ON CHIEF JUSTICE PUNO’S APPOINTMENT
GORDON: I took my oath before Chief Justice Puno as a senator. And Chief Justice Puno has very very good credentials. He may not have agreed with us on People’s Initiative but I know him to be a man of great rectitude, not easily swayed and I know that he is not swayed. He is a man of principle, a man of tremendous legal wisdom. A man who is conscious about the respect that is needed in the Supreme Court. I really welcome that appointment. The other justices in the SC are equally great but I think Chief Justice Puno’s time has finally arrived. I would like to say however that Chief Justice Panganiban showed the way in terms of a very independent court. It showed the new SC that is accepting realities and the challenges of the supreme court.