Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, January 30, 2006

Gordon: Modern polls first before Charter change

By PATRICIA ESTEVES The Manila Times Reporter

Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws, on Sunday urged the government to modernize the Commission on Elections as a priority before starting the debate on Charter change.

Gordon said the present political crisis in the country stems from problems in the electoral system.

"A number of elections that we’ve had have been punctuated with allegations of cheating. Some of these charges even went to court and we have seen how some went as far as demanding for the recount of votes that took years to finish. It is high time we resolve this concern," Gordon said.

The second Senate hearing on the discussion of Charter change is scheduled for Monday. In the previous hearing, senators asserted their authority to vote separately on Charter change.

Gordon was hopeful that the heads of government agencies who will attend the discussion would see the urgent need to modernize election in time for the 2007 national polls.

"There are numerous attempts to push for Charter change which they perceive as the solution for the various political issues that we are confronting, but the truth is that this does not and will not fix the problem," Gordon said.

"Reforming the COMELEC and the electoral system is a key condition to Charter change."

He said the country could learn its lesson from India and the US, which have automated systems in tabulating votes.

He noted that India’s recent election, where 600 million cast their votes, was finished in two days.

The US, on the other hand, has used a machine that employs a touch-screen for those who cannot write, and which shuts down at the end of the day.

"There is no reason why we cannot adopt these technologies. With minimal human intervention in counting and canvassing and speedy transmission of election results, we can eliminate the doubt that always hangs over every election exercise in this country," Gordon said.


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