Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Philippine govt remains upbeat about automated election

Angelo S. Samonte, Llanesca T. Panti And Francis Earl A. Cueto
Manila Times

Malacañang remains optimistic that the automation of the 2010 elections will push through despite the withdrawal of the Filipino partner of Barbados-based Smartmatic International, the winning bidder, from the project.

During a media briefing on Tuesday, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde cited President Gloria Arroyo’s full support for poll automation, which she said would help ensure the conduct of honest, orderly, peaceful and credible elections next year.

Vice President Noli de Castro also on Tuesday said that pushing through with poll automation, whether full or partial, was more acceptable to the people than reverting to the manual election system for 2010.

He warned against going back to manual elections, saying such move will just stir fears of cheating.

“Failure to push through again with poll automation may be perceived by the people as another scheme to perpetuate election fraud,” de Castro said.

“The credibility of the national elections is an absolute necessity to attain political stability that the country and the Filipino people need to achieve progress. Filipinos deserve a meaningful exercise of their right of suffrage,” he added.

Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd said that manual elections would be “disastrous” for the country.

Sen. Francis Escudero said that the Comelec still has time to comply with the law but should the Comelec determine that poll automation is now unfeasible, it should prepare itself for the manual implementation of the 2010 elections.

But Sen. Francis Pangilinan also on Tuesday said that he was dismayed at Comelec’s suggestion to go back to manual voting.

“We urge the Comelec to be creative, think out of the box and salvage the situation. Our country, our children do not deserve the mediocrity, the mess and the inutility being displayed here by government in this botched deal,” he added in a statement.

Faiilure on the part of the poll body, Pangilinan said, “sends the impression that the government is inutile and incapable of providing urgent reforms.”

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