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

Friday, March 06, 2009

Senate approves poll automation budget

Senate approved late last night the P11.3-billion budget that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) needed to fully automate the May 2010 presidential elections.

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon, principal author of Republic Act (RA) 9369 or the Amended Automated Elections Law, lauded the Senate's approval of the budget, saying that this sends a strong signal that the Philippines stands firm in protecting and safeguarding the sacred votes of its people.

"We owe it to the Filipino people to have clean, honest and orderly elections. Automation will bring back our people's confidence in the elections," he said.

"With automated elections, our people can rely on the fact that their vote will be counted, and that their vote will mean change for the country, then they will stop being cynical. And once they stop being cynical, perhaps the focus will now be on the common good," he added.

Automating the electoral system to get rid of massive electoral fraud that often marred the country's electoral exercises and ensure clean, honest and orderly elections has been the promise of every president.

But it was not until Dec. 22, 1997 that RA 8436, the law that authorized the Comelec to use an automated election system, was passed.. However, the election modernization law was not implemented.

Gordon, who had been pushing for automated elections, authored RA 9369, which was passed into law in 2007.

RA 9369 was supposed to be implemented in the May 2007 elections but the Comelec sought a postponement, citing the lack of sufficient time for the necessary preparations needed.

To ensure that the provisions of the law would be met, such as the need to hold partial automation before fully automating the next regular national and local election, or the May 2010 elections, the senator pushed for the automation of the 2008 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) polls.

The success of the ARMM automated elections signaled that Filipinos are ready to modernize the country's antiquated electoral system and elevate it from third to first world class.

Gordon said the Senate would exercise its oversight power to ensure that the automation is aboveboard and fully implemented for democracy.

"Now all we have to do is implement the automation law and implement it well," he said.

"I am optimistic that the Comelec is keeping to its time-table. We already passed the law and allotted the appropriations. It is now up to the Comelec to ensure that the nation's quest to modernize our electoral process is enforced," he said.

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