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Monday, April 27, 2009

If You Can't Hack It, Don't Force Full Automation

Sen. Chiz Escudero warned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) not to gamble with the country's future by forcing full automation when it is not ready to implement it for the 2010 elections.


He scored the Comelec for being in a "state of denial" about its obvious unpreparedness to implement poll automation nationwide after it reset the scheduled opening of bids for last April 27 to May 4.


"First they changed terms of reference. Now they are moving the date of bidding. This is another proof of unpreparedness of the Comelec. They rushed the Senate to approve the budget in one day only to face delays after the fact," said the opposition senator, who heads the congressional oversight committee on poll automation.


"I urge the Comelec commissioners to be true and honest to themselves. If it can't be done, don't force the issue and rush into automation just for the sake of automation," Escudero said.


In its belated announcement last Saturday, the Comelec did not explain why its Bids and Awards Committee decided to postpone the bidding for poll automation of the national and local elections.


Escudero, who was among those who voted against the 11.3 billion automation budget in the Senate, reiterated his opposition to full automation at this time.


"The United States has been trying to automate for the past 50 years. They are only percent automated. We want to be 100 percent automated in one year," he pointed out.


"The House of Representatives has been trying to automate with 238 votes to bring the votes of the farthest seated congressmen, 100 meters away to the front row. They have not been able to do it for the past two years," he added.


Escudero said that the best thing the Comelec can do is to admit it if they are not ready to hold automated elections nationwide so an alternative plan can still be worked out by Congress before it ends its session on June 5.


"That is the patriotic thing to do. The future of our democracy is in their hands," he said.

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