Tuesday, 11 May 2010

How the Comelec made it despite glitches


MANILA, Philippines - Just when things were about to fall apart—2 days prior to the historic May 10 elections—the Commission on Elections (Comelec) decided to call in the guys with the guns to help deliver the reconfigured Compact Flash cards in hard to reach areas.

Col. Ricardo Nepomuceno, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippine’s Task Force HOPE (Honest Orderly and Peaceful Elections), confirmed to abs-cbnNEWS.com that military choppers helped deliver the CF cards to remote areas such as the mountainous regions and the island provinces.

Under Comelec rules, the military’s sole task is to help secure the holding of the elections. This includes providing security escorts in the transport of election materials.

The rules only allow the Commission to use the military’s assets to transport the election materials as a last resort, but this has to be upon a formal request by the Comelec, Nepumuceno said.

When defects in the data loaded on the CF cards were discovered during testing and sealing on Monday, May 3, the Comelec and supplier Smartmatic was faced with the situation of having to retrieve, reconfigure, and redeploy over 76,000 CF cards to various locations nationwide only days prior to the elections.

'Last resort' option

A couple of days after the CF cards snafu was discovered, and with time running out, the military, through Task Force Hope, offered to help deliver the CF cards.

“There were requests from Comelec regional election directors particularly Davao to get the military to help,” Nepumuceno explained.

He said, however, that Comelec Chairman Jose Melo initially said no, reasoning that there is still time and it is not yet time to employ the “last resort.” Melo wanted to exhaust all other means first, said Nepumuceno.

Only Melo can lift restriction, Nepumuceno explained. “We asked the Comelec for a written request.”

Melo eventually sent the AFP a request 2 days prior to the elections, according to Nepumuceno. “The AFP took it as a directive.”

The areas where the military delivered CF cards were Nueva Viscaya, Palawan, Some areas in Davao, remote areas in Quezon province (such as the towns of Umiray and Aurora), Abra and some provinces within the Cordillera Autonomous Region. – abs-cbnNEWS.com

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