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POLL CHIEF SAYS Automation fund needed before May 20

Posted on: February 24, 2009

URL: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/infotech/view/20090220-190089/Automation-fund-needed-before-May-20

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 14:57:00 02/20/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010, Technology (general)

MANILA, Philippines–The supplemental budget for automating the 2010 elections must be given to the poll body no later than May 20, 2009, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose Melo said.

In an interview with INQUIRER.net, Melo admitted that the budget must be in before the May 20 deadline since the winning bidder will have time to arrange for the “procurement, production, delivery and customization of the voting machines,” as suggested by the Comelec Advisory Council.

“If the budget will not be available before May 20, it will be impossible to implement the automated elections because there is not enough time for the procurement of the machines and for voters’ education,” said Melo.

Melo said both activities are crucial in preparation for the 2010 automated polls.

In a separate interview, Ambassador Henrietta de Villa, chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), agreed.

She said the poll automation budget must be given earlier to set the bidding process in motion and allow Comelec to award the project to the winning vendor.

She said it takes about 6 months for the vendor to procure and ship the machines. Voters’ education also takes time and should be done before the elections.

Comelec head executive assistant Edgardo Gurrea said the Comelec has not set a schedule for the bidding process.

But the poll body can start bidding once the terms of reference for the poll automation machines are released, he added.

The Department of Budget and Management has released in January guidelines clarifying procurement activities for those without an issued allotment but authorizes government agencies to proceed with bidding without the awarding of the project to bidder until there is a “Special Allotment Release Order” given, Gurrea said.

Vendors were invited by House of Representatives to present their automated election technology on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the deliberation process for the supplemental budget.

Currently, there is a proposed measure to allocate P11.3 billion supplemental budget for the automation of elections in 2010. This bill is up for second reading both at the House of Representatives and the Senate.

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