Press Release
January 25, 2010

No fallback for failure of elections
Villar to Comelec: Ensure poll automation or spark chaos

Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar has asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to work double-time to ensure that the automation of the May 10 elections proceeds as planned to avoid a political crisis that could plunge the country into chaos.

Villar made the call as questions on the reliability and integrity of the automated balloting persist despite the poll body's assurance that it is 100 percent ready for the Philippines' first computerized polls.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Sunday night aired its concern over preparations for the computerized polling despite the Comelec's assurance that there will be no failure of elections.

As fallback to such scenario, the country's bishops called for more vigilance and involvement by Filipinos in the electoral process.

For his part, Villar noted that Comelec is still plagued with a number of pre-poll issues, such as delays in the printing of ballots and training of teachers who will man the polling places.

"The fate of the country's future lies in the May 10 elections, and Comelec must ensure that the casting of votes proceeds without a hitch. Talk of a failure of elections is in the air and such a scenario is simply unacceptable," Villar said.

The Comelec said it would delay for one more week the printing of ballots to be used in the May 10 automated polls to accommodate any final disqualifications or reconsideration of candidates running for public office.

"I remain cautiously optimistic that the automation of the May 10 elections will proceed according to plan. But the Comelec must also do its part to calm the growing fears of a failure of elections, for whatever reason," Villar said.

Last week, the Comelec reported that it had uncovered about 43,000 multiple registrants for the May polls.

Murmurs of a possible failure of elections had been in the air since last year after some senators claimed that the Comelec had failed to conduct pilot testing for poll automation in select areas in the country.

They said the technology to be used for the May 10 polls should have been first fully validated and that all necessary procedures should be taken to ensure an honest and accurate counting of votes.

Villar said that contingencies for a failure of elections are far less firmed up, and such a scenario could lead to a "political crisis of disastrous proportions."

He said that as it stands now, even the succession plan for such an event appears murkier than ever especially since Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile is running for reelection.

Villar has proposed that a senator not running for reelection should head the Senate to be able to serve as acting President in case of a failure of elections.

The Constitution, in Article 7, Section 7, stipulates that: "Where no President and Vice President shall have been chosen or shall have qualified, or where both shall have died or become permanently disabled, the President of the Senate or, in case of his inability, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall act as President until a President or a Vice President shall have been chosen and qualified.

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