Saturday, 28 February 2009

Palace backs full automation in 2010

By Marvin Sy
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang said yesterday it was for the full automation of the 2010 elections and called on its allies in Congress to support this position in its deliberations on the supplemental budget for the automated elections.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said President Arroyo has made it one of her priorities to have a fully automated electoral system in the country in order to eradicate fraud during elections.

The position of the Palace runs counter to that taken by Speaker Prospero Nograles, a key Malacañang ally, who said he would insist on the implementation of a “hybrid” or partially automated elections next year.

Nograles said the House of Representatives would push for the automation of elections for national positions, namely the president, vice president and senators.

For local government officials, including congressmen, Nograles said the manual voting system should be retained.

Nograles could not explain why his colleagues are insisting on partial automation.

“The stand of the Palace is clear – that it is for full automation of the elections. It’s a program of President Arroyo and we hope Congress and the Comelec (Commission on Elections) will work together to attain that program and vision set by the President,” Remonde said.

The proposed P11.3-billion supplemental budget for the automation of the 2010 elections is still with the House of Representatives and with just a few session days left in the calendar of Congress before the month-long Lenten break, it appears unlikely that this would be passed within the time frame stated by the Comelec.

Remonde said the President is open to the calling of special sessions during the Lenten break in order to pass the supplemental budget.

At the Senate, Sen. Richard Gordon called on the House of Representatives to expedite the passage of the supplemental budget for the full automation of the 2010 polls.

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