Press Release
March 1, 2009

Let us not fail the people's dream, Gordon urges Congress

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today called on Congress not to fail the Filipino people in their long-hoped-for dream of having a clean, honest and credible elections in May 2010 by removing all impediments to the holding of automated elections.

Gordon said Congress should pass the supplemental budget the Commission on Elections (Comelec) needed for full poll automation of the next elections as mandated by law he has authored.

"The people have, for so long, cherished the dream of having clean, honest and credible elections. Poll automation sends a strong signal that wholesale cheating that often marred the country's electoral exercises would no longer be easily carried out," he said.

"We should not disappoint our countrymen. It is within the power of Congress to pave the way for an automated election that would erase public suspicion that the Filipino people's sacrosanct votes would be stolen from them," he added.

The Comelec has asked Congress for a P11.3-billion supplemental budget for the planned automation of the 2010 presidential elections.

The poll body is considering using the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) technology, an improved Optical Mark Reader (OMR) system that was used along with the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) technology in the August 2008 automated elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

PCOS is a technology wherein optical paper ballots, hand-marked by the voters, are inserted for counting into optical ballot scanners placed in every polling precinct.

The House of Representatives had approved on second reading the Comelec's proposed poll automation budget but with the condition it be accompanied by special measure to ensure the 2010 polls are orderly, clean and free.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo expressed hope that the automation budget would be released not later than April to give the poll body sufficient time to prepare what is needed to be undertaken for the polls to be automated.

Noting it as a matter of national urgency, Gordon said he is even amenable to calls for the holding of a special session even while Congress is on recess just so they can pass the automation budget.

"Congress is scheduled to go on recess starting March 7. With Congress not resuming until April 13, I am open to holding special sessions during the break so we can pass the automation budget and release it on time to the Comelec," he said.

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