Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Gordon scores Comelec chief for scrapping poll automation plan

Sen. Richard Gordon scored Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos yesterday for virtually shutting the door to partial automation of next year’s elections.

"If we do not do partial automation in 2007, then we won’t be able to fully automate in the 2010 presidential elections," Gordon said. "Every presidency has been plagued by charges of electoral fraud. If we don’t clean up the system now, when?"

Gordon is the chairman of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and the revision of codes and laws. He has also asked Abalos to resign if he cannot ensure the partial automation of the 2007 elections.

"His burlesque display of incompetence and unmitigated insincerity are glaringly apparent," Gordon said. "What about his duty to conduct fast, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections, when there is clearly so little faith in the existing system?"

"If Abalos cannot do the job himself, he should look for a contractor who can," he added. "This is not a time for excuses."

Gordon had recently observed the US’ midterm elections in November and saw various presentations showcasing how the poll computerization technology can be applied in the Philippines.

He also said the Comelec initially participated in crafting the new Automated Election System (AES) measure in Congress and was privy to this bill, but had stopped appearing as the process progressed.

Gordon said the Comelec cannot hide behind the alleged recommendations of its advisory council to limit election modernization to electronic transmission only: "Even assuming that this recommendation is true, then why is Abalos totally scrapping the project? The recommendation emphasizes that even partial automation can be done."

"The alleged lack of a budget is also not an excuse. The new bill provides for a budget," he said. "Comelec has enough resources to make it happen. After all, they said they have funds for Charter change." By Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star


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