Press Release
February 19, 2010

Villar to Comelec: Educate poor on poll automation

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar yesterday called on the Commission on Elections to prioritize the poor in its education drive on poll automation, stressing that they are easily intimidated by the new technology.

Unlike other sectors, he said, the poor belonging to the D and E classes of society generally have less access to digital know-how and capacity to learn overnight the new voting system.

Villar's appeal was prompted by the latest survey of Pulse Asia showing the number of Filipinos uninformed about automation is still the largest in socioeconomic class E (very poor), where three out of 10 respondents said they have no knowledge at all about the automated election.

Government data showed that the poor sector comprises at least 30 percent of the country's voting population. The estimate was derived from most recent government poverty data showing 33 out of 100 Filipinos are poor.

"Ang pangamba ko talaga ay para sa mahihirap nating mga kababayan na karamihan sa kanila ay hindi nakakadalo sa mga briefings ng Comelec at iba pang grupo upang turuan ang mga botante sa paggamit ng voting machines at iba pang procedures," added Villar.

He said Comelec must be aware that before the poor worry about how poll automation works they have to worry first where to get food, and this will be a big challenge for the poll body.

"With the May 10 balloting barely three months away, what will happen to these voters who are still at a loss about the automated election procedures?" Villar said.

Villar, whose vision is to improve the lives of the underprivileged, said while the poll body conducts demonstrations on the poll machine, it must look for other means to reach out to the poor. He suggested mass dissemination of illustrated leaflets and easy-to-understand reading materials on automated balloting.

"It is a cause for concern dahil imbes na madagdagan ang bilang ng mga Pilipinong may alam sa election automation, kabaligtaran ang nangyari. As I have said before, as early as now, while there is still time, dapat malaman na natin kung makakaya ba talaga ng Comelec na ituloy ang automation," said Villar.

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