Press Release
July 4, 2009

Press statement of Senator Loren Legarda

On work to make poll automation a success

Well and good that Smartmatic and its local partner TIM had come to terms so that the automation of the 2010 elections can push through. There's hard work ahead though for this joint venture and the Comelec, all of whom must follow a strict timetable on the sourcing of the substantial number of poll automation machines and their extensive testing prior to actual field use.

But holding an automated elections next year is not an end unto itself because the important thing is to ensure that this shift from the manual system would be with minimal snags and snafus, and would finally shut the door on poll cheats. With Smartmatic and TIM resolving their differences, it's time to determine whether they can really deliver the goods.

On media, business, NGOs joining forces for 2010

Vigilance by all sectors of society in ensuring a clean, honest and orderly elections next year is a must. Extensive media coverage of the elections, supported by business and non-government organizations, would provide our people information every step of the way during that critical period.

More importantly, vigilance by the people and media entities is needed to guard against poll cheats in a fully automated election system and their results much harder to tamper with, at least according to the claim of the joint venture that would provide the automated poll machines.

We cannot lower our guard just because of poll automation. As the saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat. Surely, there would be attempts to crack the poll automated system because there remains a constant in our politics -- the determination of some to hold public office for one's gain by every means possible, whether they be clean or not.

On MSMEs badly need support of banks

Medium, small and micro enterprises form about 90 percent of local industries, thereby accounting for the majority of jobs available to our people. While local banks, just like everybody else, are reeling from the economic slowdown, they are encouraged to provide more loan assistance to MSMEs because Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data show a downturn in lending to this sector.

Sure, banks are wary of increasing loan defaults. Nonetheless, this should not stop them from opening credit lines to MSMEs that meet requirements and whose operations are viable. Banks have a social responsibility to their host communities and to the entire nation.

On US opposing No-el scenario for RP

The Philippines is an active trade partner of the United States, with whom it shares many concerns like regional security and anti-terrorism initiatives. It is thus understandable that the US has expressed concern over a postponement of the 2009 elections.

A no-election scenario, whatever the underlying reason may be, would be very disruptive and would aggravate the already many problems being faced by the Philippines, including a slowdown in the economy, the peace and order situation in Mindanao and the increasing number of Filipinos afflicted by the A(H1N1) virus.

There can be no justification for not holding the 2009 elections as doing so would deprive the Filipino people of their right to choose their next leaders. Being held in the stranglehold of this administration for nearly a decade is more than enough. For this administration to dream of a term extension would be too much of an aggravation to the people.

On vanishing prepaid loads to remain a problem

The doubling or tripling by telecommunication companies of the shelf life of prepaid loads is most welcome, but it would not solve the well-reported problem of vanishing prepaid loads.

What is needed is for the telcos to come up with mechanisms that would allow consumers to easily report vanishing loads and to get a prompt response like the return of the value in peso of the load that had disappeared.

Telcos must not be seen as insensitive to the needs of consumers and they must iron out the problems in their systems so that the people are not shortchanged.

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