Press Release
December 7, 2008


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the Commission on Elections should not purchase but merely rent the voting machines to reduce the cost of the automation of the 2010 national and local elections.

Pimentel said the P21 billion supplemental budget being sought by the Comelec for the nationwide poll computerization is too much and beyond the funding capability of the government especially with the apprehension that the revenue target next year may not be met due to the projected slowdown in the country's economic growth caused by the global financial crisis.

The senator from Mindanao said that the use of automated machines by a lease agreement will also spare the government of maintenance and storage expenses for the equipment.

He noted that a major reason for huge automation cost is the recommendation of elections authorities to adopt the paperless Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) system nationwide which is very expensive.

Pimentel said the Comelec should look into possibility of using the less expensive Optical Mark Reader (OMR) voting machines along with the DRE machines.

He noted the assessment of the Comelec and the volunteer poll watchdog groups that the DRE machines were used in Maguindanao during the August 11 election in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with satisfactory results.

Pimentel said that the DRE voting machines should probably be used primarily in provinces where cheating was rampant in the previous elections.

He said the government should learn from the costly lesson when the Comelec purchased 1,900 Korean-made automated voting machines which were found to be defective and were not used for the 2004 elections. The idle machines are stored in an air-conditioned building which is costing the Comelec millions of pesos in electric bills and other maintenance costs every year.

Pimentel stressed that the Comelec should then conduct an open, competitive bidding for the automated voting machines to get the most advantageous terms.

The senator from Mindanao urged the Comelec to purge list of voters of double entries.

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