Press Release
June 11, 2006


The minority bloc in the Senate supports the enactment of a new election modernization law but believes it was wrong to rush the approval of the measure at the expense of a thorough discussion of its ramifications.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today made it clear that they are not blocking the passage of the important measure after they were blamed by Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws, for the Senates failure to vote on it before adjourning sine die Thursday.

Gordon, sponsor of the election modernization bill, railed against the minority senators for the cavalier way they are treating something that is very important because it will eliminate election cheating and speed up the transmission of election results through electronic means.

Pimentel said there were still many details about the bill which the minority senators wanted to know and why there were loud voices or anger. We wanted to discuss the measure dispassionately, he said.

The members of the opposition, particularly Senators Panfilo Lacson, Jamby Madrigal, Jinngoy Estrada and Alfredo Lim wanted to have a chance to discuss the various ramifications of the complicated bill of Mr. Gordon, he said.

The minority leader also allayed apprehension that the delayed approval of the bill would imperil the election modernization program.

Realistically speaking, if we can pass the bill by August, then we will still have eight months to prepare for the May, 2007 elections, he said.

Moreover, Pimentel said the bill envisions a scheme of implementing the poll automation in pilot provinces before going nationwide.

He emphasized that the modernization of election, to be successful, should adopt a technology that is appropriate to Philippine setting.

Pimentel said it is also important to determine whether it is better to lease the automated vote-counting machines and other equipment than to purchase them.

I do not know which is the best thing to do here. Some people believe that perhaps leasing the equipment would be better because after their use, we can return them to the lessor or supplier, he said.

According to the senator from Mindanao, another view is that the government can buy the hardware, the computers, and then after the election, they will be donated to public schools.

He said the government should not close the door to the use of election computer machines that are locally invented and can be locally manufactured.

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