Press Release
May 4, 2010

Asks Comelec and Senate to file hold departure order vs Smartmatic execs
Chiz asks Comelec to prepare for manual count

Independent Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to order the printing of election paraphernalia for a mandatory, full manual count during the May 10 polls.

"The latest report about poll counting errors by the PCOS machines, at this stage of the electoral process, may very well validate long-standing concerns about the nationwide automated count of the votes to be cast on election day," Escudero, co-chairman of the poll automation oversight committee, said in a statement.

"The Comelec must undertake preparations with utmost caution and plan for contingencies knowing that any mistake in this unprecedented exercise could cost us more than the billions spent for this project - the denial of our people's right to elect this country's next leaders," he said.

The senator issued the statement following reported mistakes in the reading of results during the testing of PCOS machines in various areas conducted by the Comelec on Monday.

Escudero said that he will immediately strongly request Comelec Chairman Jose Melo and the Office of the Senate President to issue a hold-departure order against Smartmatic officials to ensure that they can make good on their pledge to implement a nationwide automation of next Monday's polls.

"This will also guarantee that they be held accountable if it is proven that they are liable for any problems that may be encountered in next week's polls," he said.

Escudero, who has monitored the step-by-step implementation of the poll automation law, has always favored partial automation of the May 10 polls.

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