Thursday, September 10, 2009

All clear for first nationwide automated polls in RP

Yesterday, the Philippine Supreme Court's decision in favor of allowing the conduct of automated polls nationwide on May 2010 was leaked ahead of the high tribunal's official announcement. But it created nary a stir among those claiming to be champions of democracy and inheritors of one of the country's oldest political parties.

Instead, the Philippine media blasted the airwaves and flooded front pages with the sugar-free rush delivered by Senator Noynoy Aquino's buckling announcement of seeking the Presidency in the coming elections next year.

Today, this major development in Philippine politics would have goneby unnoticed until activist lawyer Harry Roque found it necessary to pick nits over the decision.

Roque, though unknown for winning any of the high profile cases that he has filed, has thought it best to ask the Supreme Court to cite Comelec Chairman Jose Melo in contempt for allegedly leaking the decision on the case he filed against Smartmatic-TIM -- the lone winning bidder for the electronic voting machines that will be used in the May 2010 elections.
In a five-page motion, the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), through lawyer Harry Roque, said Melo committed an improper conduct that tends to directly or indirectly impede, obstruct or degrade the administration of justice.

“If public respondent Melo can flaunt his commission or illegal acts in obtaining confidential proceedings of the Supreme Court, then, how can he be trusted with the sanctity of the electoral process,” petitioners said.

source: Philippine Daily Inquirer
The CCM pointed out the case of retired Supreme Court Justice Ruben Reyes, who was indefinitely suspended by high tribunal for leaking an unpromulgated court decision.

Senator Richard Gordon, who authored RA 9369 and steered the Oversite Committee on Electoral Reforms in order to assure funding for automated polls in 2010, bristled with optimism over the Supreme Court's decision.

In a statement released this afternoon, Gordon said:
The Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the automation of the may 2010 presidential elections is a very welcome development. It will pave the way for clean, honest, credible elections.
The decision effectively removed the legal barrier to the automation of next year’s elections. The ruling would allow the commission on elections to go full throttle in the preparations and implementation of poll automation.
An automated election will be a game changer. It will prevent those with Ph.ds in ‘daya-logy’ (cheating) from perpetrating their evil deeds. Years and years of cheating-ridden elections have already allowed them to acquire ph.ds in election manipulation.
Its speed and the fact that it will be the first nationwide automated elections in the country will ensure that the holders of ph.d in ‘daya-logy’ (cheating) will not have time to prepare for this system.
RA 9369 or the Amended Automated Election Law has enabled the country to hold automated elections in 2010 by taking out the barriers to its implementation.

When Gordon was pushing for this vital piece of legislation, other Senators deliberately delayed its passage by not participating in its interpellation and the sessions stalled a number of times because of a lack of quorum. Among those who stalled the passage of RA 9369 were Senator Mar Roxas, former Senator Cerge Osmena, and a couple of others.

As a result, the law was passed around January 23, 2007 with a mandate that allowed Comelec to immediately implement automated elections. However, the Comelec decided not to implement even the pilot phase of the automated elections -- a decision that this year became the basis for Attorney Harry Roque's petition against Smartmatic-TIM.

As far as discerning between those who pay lip service and those who actually work for a stronger democracy, it might be a good idea to consider what one Presidential candidate has done and what another Presidential candidate is just PROMISING TO DO.

Noynoy or Mar Roxas, for that matter, will not harp on their track record or the lack of it.

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