Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gordon to Comelec: Submit accurate poll automation budget

--Business Mirror

Sen. Richard Gordon on Tuesday urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to exercise political will and decisiveness in pursuing the full automation of the 2010 elections.

“Poll automation still hangs in the air because until now the Comelec has not yet given a realistic figure on the cost of automation,” Gordon lamented.

He expressed concern about the varying figures that are being reported by the media, which are allegedly coming from Comelec officials themselves.

“I am quite confused about some media reports showing that the cost of full automation continues to increase every week,” Gordon said.

“If the Comelec is really serious about automating the 2010 elections, its officials will move heaven and earth to make the cost of automation realistic and to make it acceptable to the administration and the Congress to enable the poll body to get additional funding for 2009,” Gordon added.

In the September 9 hearing of the Joint Oversight Committee on Automated Elections; the Comelec presented three types of technology options with corresponding budgetary requirements.

During the hearing, the spokesman for Smartmatic-Sahi Technology joint venture submitted the company’s own cost estimate for the automation of at least 75 percent of the precincts nationwide, which is more than 30 percent lower than the P56 billion earlier presented by Comelec.

“I am positive that the cost estimate will b e far lower that the estimates presented by Comelec because as we have already discussed in the previous hearing, the prices of the machines are expected to go down because of the volume that will be used for a nationwide elections,” Gordon noted.

Gordon said Comelec should give congress a more accurate figure because that will be the basis of the appropriations for 2009, which is prerequisite to bid out the poll automation project for 2010.

“Budgetary constraints should not be used as an excuse not automate the 2010 elections,” Gordon said.

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