Press Release
September 16, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) said there is no need to computerize the forthcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections although the Commission on Elections should pursue the automation efforts in preparation for the 2010 national and local polls.

Pimentel said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was ill-advised in saying that she wanted the Oct. 29 Barangay and SK elections to be computerized. Since counting of votes for candidates is confined to the individual barangays, he said this can be adequately done manually.

"I think that is just gimmick by Gloria. It was not carefully thought," the opposition lawmaker said.

Pimentel also accused congressmen behind the proposed two year delay of the Barangay and SK elections of reneging on their earlier commitment not to further postpone such electoral exercise.

He said the automation of counting of votes is needed only for national and local elections when votes are transmitted through various layers - from the polling precincts to the municipal, provincial and regional levels until they are tabulated by the Comelec in Manila.

"If these are done manually, there are opportunities to cheat and change the election results. That is where computerization is needed."

Pimentel vowed to block the move of the House of Representatives to reset the Barangay and SK elections to the 2nd Monday of October 2009, pointing out that the polls had already been deferred five times before.

The senators will hold a caucus on the postponement proposal on Monday, Sept. 17.

Pimentel revealed that when a contingent of congressmen negotiated with a Senate panel to defer the twin elections the 5th time, they promised that it would be the last. He said the House Deputy Speaker Raul del Mar was a witness to that commitment.

"Now they are breaking that vow," Pimentel said. "They have come up with different reasons. But we cannot go along with their wish."

"I am not in favor of another postponement even if the whole world is for it. I believe that we should not play around with our electoral process and the term of elective officials."

Since the effect of a postponement is to further extend the term of the overstaying Barangay and SK officials, he said it is wrong to reward bad village and youth leaders with additional tenure.

He said that elections will give incumbent officials an opportunity to account for their performance and enable new leaders to emerge.

On the congressmen's reasoning that the government could ill afford the cost of the Barangay and SK elections, Pimentel said the Department of Budget and Management has already released the P2.1 billion funding for the polls to the Comelec and a huge portion of it has already been spent or committed to various election-related activities like registration of new voters and printing of ballots.

In truth, he said Barangay and SK elections can be conducted even by using ordinary bond paper or newsprint. He said the printed ballots traditionally used can be dispensed with since this is very expensive and source of graft.

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