Press Release
October 14, 2006


SENATOR Richard J. Gordon expressed full confidence that the Automated Election System (AES) can still be implemented in 2007 congressional and local elections after the Senate approved the Automated Election bill last Thursday that would computerize the countrys outdated manual election process.

It can be done. Comelec should take this as a challenge. If it exerts its collective will, automated elections in 2007 will happen.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendment Revision of Codes and Laws and sponsor of Senate Bill 2231, also criticized Chairman Benjamin Abalos of Commission on Election (Comelec) as reports quoted him in saying that the bill was too late in coming as the poll body was already preparing for manual voting for 2007 elections and may not have enough time to consider testing an automated election system.

Who says its too late to automate the elections? The Comelec was aware of the election automation bill, they were told to prepare for it, and even during the Comelec budget hearing last September 26, they said they can realign funds if automation pushes through for 2007. Gordon emphasized.

They just need to exert their will if they sincerely want fast, clean, honest, fair, and transparent elections. He said.

Gordon also noted that all this hesitancy speaks of some sinister plot to stop automation, hatched by those who are afraid of it because it means they can no longer buy votes and cheat. Gordon added that year after year allegation of fraud accompany the outmoded manual system of election and that it has ensured the only the powerful and wealthy stay in powerthe ones who can cheat and buy votes.

After almost a year of deliberations, marked with bitter and long debates, the Senate, voting 13 to 0, approved on third and final Reading SB 2231 which would allow the Comelec to use an AES in 2007 and in subsequent electoral exercises.

The Senate bill provides for a partial implementation of the AES in 2007, that is, limited to six pilot provinces and six highly urbanized cities in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao to be determined by the Comelec.

By 2010, the automated electoral system would be implemented nationwide. An oversight committeecomposed of three representatives each from the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Comelecwill review the law every 12 months from the last election for further refinement or adjustment.

According to Gordon, the pilot testing of the automated election system next year is estimated to cost P1.4 billion.

Among others, the bill mandates that the automated electoral system should be technology neutral, meaning it would use the most suitable technology presently available to for the system to allow for flexibility in upgrading it as technology advances.

Gordon said that under the automated election system, the results would be transmitted immediately to the concerned parties, including the Comelec, the political parties, media, citizen watchdog, to remove the element of delay that cheaters have exploited in the past. But the automated election system would still produce paper-based record of the votes, or voter-verified paper audit trails, as a means to check the veracity of the summary of results transmitted, if necessary.

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