Press Release
March 5, 2009


Liberal President Senator Mar Roxas today said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should come up with stringent safeguards to ensure the planned automation of the 2010 synchronized elections is insulated from wide-scale cheating.

"Mahalaga ang opinyon at boto ng bawat mamamayan. Siguruhin natin na mabibilang ang mga ito nang tama (Every Filipino's opinion, each man's vote important. Let us make sure that these are counted correctly)," he said.

"Ngayong naipasa na ang supplemental budget para sa computerization ng eleksyon sa susunod na taon, tumutok naman tayo sa pagsiguro na hindi ito magagamit na kasangkapan para sa mas malawakang dayaan. (Now that the budget for this poll automation has been approved by Congress, we can now focus on ensuring that this would not be used as a tool for massive fraud.)," he stressed.

The Senate approved the proposed P11.3-billion poll automation budget in a marathon session Wednesday night before it adjourned for a month-long Lenten break amid concerns by some senators that the system could be vulnerable to intrusion.

He said Comelec should allow political parties and other concerned entities, like independent cause groups, to actively participate in the crafting of the safeguards for easy assessment of the measures' effectivity or ineffectivity.

At the same time, he said the Comelec could opt to reduce risk and not to push through with a national coverage if this becomes too cumbersome for security.

"Kung hindi pa kakayanin ang buong bansa, eh kahit iilang probinsiya muna. Mas okay kung 'slowly but surely.' Kaysa naman ratsada tayo nang ratsada, gastos tayo nang gastos. Mas mabuti 'yung sigurado (If full automation is not possible, then let us pilot test in certain provinces first. It's better to do it slowly but surely than rush head on and spend left and right even if we end up with nothing)," he stressed.

The Ilonggo senator acknowledged the risk of machinations as he gave Comelec the benefit of the doubt, saying "kung 'yung Pentagon o FBI nga napasok ng mga hackers, ito pa kaya? Kaya nga talagang kailangan ng maselan at masusing pagbabantay sa programang ito (if the Pentagon or the Federal Bureau of Investigations could be hacked, more so that we're at risk. That's why I am saying we need to be very cautious in approaching this new system)."

"Dapat marahan tayo rito. Siguruhin natin na may mga sapat na proteksyon para 'yung mga kamalian o 'yung mga pandaraya sa manwal na eleksyon ay mabawasan at hindi maging mas grabe pa dito sa computerization. May panganib na isang pindot lang sa kompyuter ay maiiba na ang resulta. 'Yan ang kailangan nating bantayang mabuti (We should approach this cautiously. We have to make sure that enough safeguards are in place so that the massive cheating that accompanied our previous manual elections is indeed minimized and not increased. There's risk that one click of the computer could change results. That's what we have to guard against)," he added.

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