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

Thursday, June 25, 2009

KAPIHAN SA SENADO 6/25/09: On Poll Automation

Q: Bukas yung schedule ng pirmahan ng kontrata ng Smartmatic and the Comelec, will this go through?

Sen. Gordon: It’s the Comelec who should be making that decision because the law has been completed and they are now implementing the law, and it’s up to them to make that decision. We cannot substitute our decision for the Comelec. They are the frontline, we have already given the standards, they should be able to make it.

Quite frankly, my only comment on the Comelec is that they ought to be more careful and ought to be more adept at scrutiny. For example, they should know that hubs and spokes are technical terms. When you have a hub, that’s a technical term that means it is in aid of speedy delivery and distribution of machines or voting ballots and paraphernalia.

Q: Sen. Escudero expressed concern that Smartmatic has
not really been officially or properly authenticated by whatever consulate or embassy.

Sen. Gordon: That is something that is easily curable.. They can go to Caracas right away and the consul general can immediately attest or authenticate the documents. Like I said, it’s the failure on the part of Smartmatic’s lawyers to assume that it was Barbados. They could have gotten that in Caracas especially since most of them are Venezuelans. I have no worries about that..

My worry is, the machines should be delivered, the machines should be checked and given the A-okay for efficiency and the reliability and that they have a contingency plan in place in case the machines don’t work, in case the machines are violently taken.

Q: According to Comelec chairman Melo yung mga nagsa- sourgraping na losing bidders ay mini-mislead yung mga senators.

Sen. Gordon: I wouldn’t go as far as that but I’m sure that there are some grumbling losing bidders. That is always the case. This is a big contract, a very prestigious one at that. If you succeed here, you make your bones in the whole world because the Philippines has never been famous for honest and reliable elections. So, if a company comes here, they obviously would like to get the business. Kailangan makuha nila yung negosyo sapagkat malaking bagay ito pag nakita nila na nagtrabaho yung eleksyon dito, maraming boboto, this is one of the bigger electoral exercises in the world, we have 45 million voters, so pag nag-succeed yan they will have good credentials anywhere in the world to bid for computerized machines. So obviously there would be a lot of grumbling.

Q: What if somebody succeeds in getting a TRO and stops the contract-signing?

Sen. Gordon: It is my hope that that is not going to happen. This will have to go by judicial statesmanship, na kailangan mabilis gumalaw ang korte because really we have to finally find our way clear in making sure that our people are assured that we can have elections that are reliable. This concept was first introduced in 1997 and attempts were made to make it happen but it’s only in 2009, 12 years later, that it’s finally going to happen. I think we should really try and make a go of it that’s why yung mga naysayer bantayan na lang natin. Let us make it work. Maganda yung start natin kasi nababantayan naming mga senador without imposing our judgment on them. There’s also the advisory council, the technical committee, and the PPCRV. So lahat yang grupo na yan, pag nag-coalesce we can have an election that is good. I’ve always been the optimist, you know that.

Q: What about the hubs? Like in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi?

Sen. Gordon: They will have to make a presentation on how they will do that. That’s why I said, speaking for the people, kailan darating sa Tawi-Tawi ang makina? Three days before the elections, at the very least. And they will have to make that presentation to us, now. So dapat may timeline yan.

Q: Paano kung walang branch ang 2GO?

Sen. Gordon: It doesn’t have to have a branch there. 2GO is a logistics company, they will try to set it up. I’m sure 2GO will be able to get great experience from this operation because the elections are all over the country so they will now have to build a network. And that’s good for the country. This election connects the country.

Ang technical orientation natin mababaw pa sa tingin ko. Every time there’s a big contract nagkakagulo tayo. But you know pag may magandang kontratang ganito it is bound to happen na may mga glitches yan. That is why yung nanalo dapat binabantayan nila at binabantayan din natin. My own promise to myself, since I authored it, is pipilitin ko mangyari ito.

Q: Chiz Escudero wants the Comelec to delay signing of contract, comment on that?

Sen. Gordon: Chiz Escudero is not the Comelec. I am not the Comelec. We can make comments left or right. Chiz has made statements in the past for which even Sen. Angara berated him at one time. He was in the Lower House when this bill was being passed and he had no confidence in him. Now Chiz is just being true to form. He wants to criticize this bill.. I am glad that he is doing that. But it doesn’t mean that this is going to make this bill snake bitten. It’s not gonna be snake bitten by that. We have to make things work in this country. We make things work.. Ang orientation dito is to talk it to death. Which is right, we should talk it to death. We should analyze it. But in the final analysis, we should make our country work. Whatever law there is that has been made, we should learn to make it work.


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