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Automated polls must be guaranteed -- Romualdez

  • Written by Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
  • Published in Nation
  • Read: 2859

HOUSE Independent Bloc leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez expressed confidence yesterday that the Supreme Court will expedite its rulings on election-related matters to guarantee automated polls next year.
   
Romualdez made the remark after Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez said the poll body is not ruling out the possibility of returning to manual elections next year.
     
“I am confident that the Supreme Court will expedite its rulings in all pending legal questions pertaining to next year’s polls to guarantee automated elections,” Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), stressed.
   
Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr., a former chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, appealed to the SC to expeditiously decide all cases that would affect the conduct of automated elections.
     
“We appeal to the Supreme Court to speed up their rulings because we cannot afford returning to fraud-prone manual system,” Barzaga stressed.
   
The SC barred the Comelec from awarding the P268.8-million extended warranty contract to technology provider Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) for the repair and refurbishment of all the 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) voting machines.
   
Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte, Jr. and 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III expressed confidence that the Comelec could find ways to resolve the automation issue.
   
“With the SC ruling, it is possible that the automated polls next year will be jeopardized, but I am sure they will find a solution,” said  Bel monte.  
   
Bello, secretary of the Department of Justice during the Ramos administration and a stalwart of the House Minority Bloc, said: “I am afraid the automated polls may be jeopardized. Hopefully, Comelec will adopt measures to prevent that eventuality.”
   
In a surprising opinion, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo “Rodito” Albano III, a stalwart of the House Opposition Bloc, welcomed the possible return to manual counting.
   
“We can go manual. It just won’t be automated,” he said.
   
However, despite citing the possibility of the manual elections, Comelec said it is very unlikely to happen.