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

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Stop impeding automation of 2010 polls

Poll automation detractors should stop slowing down efforts to automate the May 2010 presidential elections to allow for clean, honest and credible electoral exercises next year, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) today urged.

Gordon, the father of election modernization in the country and author of Republic Act (RA) 9369 or the amended Automated Elections System Law, pointed out that former President Corazon Aquino's death has awakened the people and they are now clamoring for change in Philippine politics.

"With the nation grieving for Cory, Philippine politics must be redeemed in the next elections where we must vote for candidates who possess the transformational values of People Power," he said.

"Automating the elections next year will be a game-changer in Philippine politics and will take the country out of the political rut that it has fallen into. Speed will be the operative word in automated elections. Hence, it will ensure that the people's votes will really be counted and their voices will really be heard," he added.

Gordon made the call after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has expressed concern that a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court against the poll automation contract will ensure a return to manual elections in 2010.

"Papaano tayo magkakaroon ng demokrasya kung hindi natin aayusin ang ating pagboto? Why don't we give automation a chance? Ang mindset kasi natin, hindi pa tayo nagsisimula tinatali na natin ang ating sarili," he said.

The Concerned Citizens' Movement (CCM), a civil society group, asked the Supreme Court to prevent the release of P2.875 billion in advance payments to contractor Smartmatic-TIM, even as an earlier petition against the contract to automate the 2010 elections is still pending.

The CCM expressed fears that the alleged "violations" in the contract have put government at the losing end should the project fail. CCM claimed that if ever the SC later decides in their favor and orders the cancellation of the deal, the government would not be able to retrieve initial payments made by the government.

An oral argument was held at the Supreme Court last July 29. The High Bench ordered all the parties to submit within 10 days after the oral argument.

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