Saturday, 4 July 2009

Philippine election automation a go

Emilia Narni J. David with Bernardette S. Sto. Domingo

After a week of suspense, the automation of the 2010 national elections is going to push through as the joint venture of Total Information Management (TIM) and Smartmatic Corp. has been rebuilt.

In a press briefing after a meeting with the two companies, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose A.R. Melo said that TIM and Smartmatic have ironed out their issues and would be continuing their partnership.

"They threshed out everything. TIM and Smartmatic have signed the joint venture incorporation papers and the Comelec will be having a contract with the joint venture of both companies," said Mr. Melo.

Earlier yesterday, Press Secretary Cerge M. Remonde hinted at possibly shifting back to a manual process just to ensure the polls happen next year.

"The President has committed herself to full poll automation. But the Palace will continue to support Comelec. With or without automation, elections must push through," he said, citing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s speech during the celebration of Filipino-American Friendship Day.

Contract negotiations between the Comelec and the two companies were halted when both companies were unable to provide a certificate for incorporation of the joint venture. Later that same day, TIM announced that it is pulling out of its joint venture with Smartmatic on Monday citing disagreements on the control of disbursements.

On Tuesday, the Comelec brokered a meeting between both companies and gave a Friday deadline for a resolution.

Mr. Melo said that contract negotiations will continue but that "there are only one or two issues that are being threshed out so it is basically okay."

Both companies would be filing their papers for incorporation at the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

"They will file [the incorporation] by Monday so maybe by Wednesday the joint venture will be incorporated already. By Friday we can sign the contract," said Mr. Melo.

He added that the Comelec is confident that both companies would any more misunderstandings because they would have signed a contract and would be criminally liable.

In a statement, TIM/Smartmatic said that it is committed to continue with the automation project.

"Smartmatic and TIM would like to manifest our assurance that the automation of the 2010 elections will push through, and that we stand behind the Comelec," the statement read.

Several options were laid before the Comelec if the contract with TIM/Smartmatic did not push through, including serious consideration to go back to manual elections.

Ramon C. Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, told BusinessWorld that while the resolution is welcome there should be close watch in the interactions of both companies.

"All’s well that ends well but until next time. I am not optimistic that there will be no opposition and blockades anymore but it may be through other means," said Mr. Casiple in a telephone interview.

"We hope that all parties take [what happened] as a lesson and be very alert against [any] means of sabotage," he added.

1 comment:

  1. Using the Automated System in the 2010 Philippine Elections is a big step towards change in the Electoral System.uhmm...whatever the system to be used,hoped for a clean,successful and honest election.