Press Release
April 6, 2008


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the Commission on Elections should exhaust all efforts to automate the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in August this year because it is an important step toward the computerization of the 2010 national and local elections when the next president will be elected into office.

He said he was disturbed to find out that the contract for the automation project, including the acquisition of vote counting machines, has not been awarded by the Comelec Bids and Awards Committee up to now.

During a visit to the Comelec main office in Intramuros, Manila Friday, Pimentel conferred with newly-appointed Chairman Jose Melo and fellow commissioners, together with technical people involved in the poll automation project.

"They informed me that one of the bidders was disqualified for not complying with certain requirements. But there is still one bidder being assessed by the Comelec," he said.

He said he was told that the said bidder is scheduled to discuss its proposal on Tuesday (April 8).

"There is still hope that the automation project will be successfully bidded out and implemented," Pimentel said.

The Comelec is reportedly planning to use both the direct recording electronic (DRE) and the optical mark reader technologies for the ARMM elections.

Pimentel said the successful implementation of automation in the ARMM elections will help in ensuring that the 2010 elections will be clean, orderly and credible.

The DRE allows voting through touch screen or touch pad while the OMR requires voters to fill up a paper ballot which is then tallied through the use of the automated counting machine.

Based on the Comelec timetable, the contract for the poll automation project in the autonomous region should have been signed April 1.

Pimentel said Congress will wait for the recommendation of Chairman Melo on whether to postpone the ARMM elections or to proceed with the holding of the elections on the schedule elections but reverting to the manual process of counting and tabulation.

He said any move to postpone the ARMM polls or to revert to the manual process while the automation system is still being worked out should be approved by Congress.

Pimentel pointed out that computerization of the ARMM elections had already been undertaken in 1996. He said it would be a big setback to the efforts to modernize the elections if the coming regional polls are not automated.

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