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Comelec says ARMM election will be manual

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.13

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During the May 31 hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Local Government on the ARMM election postponement, Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes, Jr. said that due to time constraints, the Comelec cannot automate the ARMM election anymore, and would have to use the manual process if the polls are held in August as scheduled. The chairman also said that the Comelec would need to start preparing for the manual election on June 15, by which date the conduct or postponement of the polls should already have been ascertained. The day before the Senate hearing, the Comelec Steering Committee submitted to the Comelec en banc a resolution regarding the conduct of an automated election in ARMM, recommending to the En Banc “not to proceed with either full or partial automated elections and instead to undertake immediate contingency plans for the conduct of manual elections...in order to avoid failure in the automated elections due to the lack of remaining time for the proper implementation thereof.” (The Comelec en banc voted to approve and adopt the steering committee's resolution on May 31, after the Senate hearing).

Brillantes told the Senate committee that the Comelec would only spend around Php 600 million to do the manual election, compared with Php 1.5 - 2.2 billion if automated. He said that since there is a delay in coming up with a decision on whether to postpone or push through with the ARMM election, they had to hold back preparations for automation to not incur expenses, and were unable to finalize any agreement with technology provider Smartmatic. Regarding the automation of the 2013 election, Brillantes said that the Comelec needs two years to prepare, which should have already started this May. He added that the Comelec can opt to get another technology provider for 2013, saying that because of the delay in finalizing any agreement with Smartmatic, the cost for automating the 2013 election using Smartmatic's PCOS would increase. He also said however that Comelec has the option to purchase Smartmatic's machines until the end of the year.

Regarding the ARMM election, Brillantes admitted to the Senate committee that there are more risks with manual election; however, he
also said that many in the ARMM want the election to be manual, adding "I don't understand why." He said that the 2008 and 2010
elections in the ARMM, which were both automated, "went well."

In a position paper it submitted to the Committee, the Comelec said that the Department of Budget and Management had released only Php 480 million of the Php 1.5 billion they would need to automate the ARMM election. The Comelec would need to get the remaining amount from Comelec's savings, "which we can otherwise use in our much-needed modernization and infrastructure projects." Meanwhile, the Alliance of Comelec Employees in Service (Aces) said in an earlier statement that "the savings will be better spent if it is allotted to augmenting the salaries and benefits of Comelec rank and file employees." The group said that under Civil Service rules, rank-and-file employees are entitled to as much as 80 percent of the agency’s savings from Personal Services (PS) and Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) for their contribution the agency’s productivity and cost-cutting measures. “The poll leadership must respect the employees’ right to the savings of the agency,” it said.

Read Comelec Minute Resolution No. 11-0577 here: http://bit.ly/jZjYui
(Additional information from SunStar).
 
 
 
 
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