Mixed reactions on Arroyo’s poll ‘legacy’
Posted July 27, 2009on:
By Anna Valmero
First Posted 18:34:00 07/27/2009
Filed Under: Technology (general), Elections
MANILA, Philippines- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s “legacy of poll automation” as mentioned in her State of the Nation Address (SONA) has elicited mixed reactions.
In her ninth and final SONA, President Arroyo said she fulfilled her promise in 2001 to secure a budget to implement poll automation.
Ferdinand Rafanan, Comelec’s legal department chief and head of the poll
body’s bidding committee, said Arroyo’s mention of poll automation during the SONA “should be a signal to the Supreme Court (SC) that the Congress, executive and Comelec wanted full poll automation in 2010.”
The statement was made in reference to the “piecemeal petition arguments” filed by lawyer Harry Roque, who alleged that the Comelec violated rules in awarding the bidding project to the joint venture of Smartmatic and Total Information Management (TIM).
Augusto Lagman, a veteran IT industry executive and a staunch Comelec critic, said that even with an allotted budget, this does not solve issues surrounding the elections.
“We are happy that budget is provided for poll automation but that is not enough when the Comelec did not choose the appropriate poll technology for 2010,” said Lagman, a proponent of “open election” system, which incorporates manual voting instead of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) technology Comelec intends to use.
The Comelec insists full automation remains the better alternative while promising to make its system as transparent as possible.
“Having the budget has given Comelec the ability to implement full poll automation but the proof is in the pudding and we are working very hard to prepare all activities for automation” said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.
“We agree that the OES or PCOS is no perfect system but experts are working on it,” Jimenez said.
Congress approved last February the P11.2 billion supplemental budget to automate the 2010 elections although Comelec will only pay P7.2 billion to the technology provider for the lease of 82,200 poll machines.