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

Saturday, December 23, 2006

ABALOS, RESIGN.

“If we do not do partial automation in 2007, then won't be able to fully automate in the 2010 presidential elections. Every presidency has been plagued by charges of electoral fraud. If we don't clean up the sytem now, when? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa? So if the Commission on Election (COMELEC) Chairman Benjamin S. Abalos cannot do even just partial automation in the 2007 elections, he should resign. His burlesque display of incompetence and unmitigated insincerity are glaringly apparent. What about his duty to conduct fast, orderly honest, peaceful, and credible elections, when clearly there is so little faith in the existing system?” said Senator Richard J. Gordon, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws.

"If Abalos cannot do the job himself, he should look for a contractor who can. This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for action. " Gordon Said

"Is Abalos trying to sneak this past the Filipino people when everyone is focusing on the holidays, just as the Lower House tried to sneak charter change in the middle of the night? Christmas is all about giving. Abalos, however, is taking. He is undermining our fundamental right to choose." he added.

"The law gives them the flexibility to make it happen in 2007 before going nationwide in 2010. They can pick the size of the area that's manageable for them. They can pick the kind of machines that can be quickly set up. They can even lease machines that are already available, whether from Hawaii, or San Francisco, even from countries like Venezuela and Brazil. Kung kaya nila, bakit hindi natin kaya?" Gordon challenged.

He recently observed the US midterm elections in November and saw various presentations on how the technology can be applied in the Philippines.

According to Gordon, the COMELEC had been part of crafting the new Automated Election System (AES) in Congress and was privy to this bill, but stopped appearing later on.

"Why did they stop appearing? Why did they lose interest in a bill that would have allowed them to clear their names from the scandal of Garci?"

Gordon further pointed out that the COMELEC cannot hide behind the alleged recommendation of the Advisory Council to limit election modernization to electronic transmission only.

"Even assuming that this recommendation is true, then why is Abalos totally scrapping the project? The recommendation emphasizes that even a partial automation can be done."

"The alleged lack of a budget is also not an excuse. The new bill provides for a budget. COMELEC has enough resources to make it happen. After all, they said they have funds for charter change. After all, they willingly pay almost four million annually just to store all those machines the Supreme Court declared illegal. So do you really believe that there's no money for the project?" he pointed out.

"The COMELEC's credibility is on the line. Even the President's credibility is on the line. GMA made automation part of her ten point agenda. Yet COMELEC is refusing to accept its responsibility to automate. GMA has yet to sign the automation bill despite its approval by both houses of Congress. If elections remain tainted by fraud in 2007 and in 2010, whose responsibility will it be? Who failed to truly uphold the people's sacred right to choose their leaders?"

"Listen to the people. They don't want charter change. They just want the right to vote for their leaders who truly reflect their principles and values, and who will stand for those principles and values when in power. It is the last ten seconds in the ball game, and the ball has been passed from Congress to the President. Will she make the pass to COMELEC by signing the bill, and will COMELEC deliver on the crucial basket that this country needs to win the game and reclaim its dignity as a democracy?"

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