Thursday, November 30, 2006

Makati off list of pilot areas for automated polls

By Veronica Uy -

MAKATI City will not be among the areas where automated elections will be pilot-tested in next year’s elections.

The exclusion of the city from the pilot areas was made at the request of Makati Representative Teodoro Locsin Jr. who told the bicameral conference committee trying to reconcile the two versions of the automated elections bill about two “suspicious” incidents: the suspension of Mayor Jejomar Binay, and instructions for the city election officer to coordinate with the military for the mass registration of voters in Makati’s second district.

Locsin, who is co-chair of the bicameral committee, said the mass registration order and the “illegal attempts to have our elected mayor removed…are suspicious.”

Senator Richard Gordon agreed with Locsin that the two incidents were “very disturbing” and acceded to the solon’s request to exclude Makati from the list.

“It’s a pity because I’ve talked to Mayor Binay and he was very enthusiastic about having [automated elections] pilot-tested in his city,” Gordon said.

With Makati out, the areas the committee listed for the Commission on Elections to choose from include the Cagayan province including Tuguegarao City, Zambales province including Olongapo City, Batanes and Romblon provinces, and Quezon City in Luzon; the second district of Cebu, Iloilo City, and the provinces of Leyte, Siquijor, and Bohol in the Visayas; and the provinces of Shariff Kabunsuan, Camiguin, Tawi-tawi, and Basilan in Mindanao.

The list is still incomplete as the committee is still meeting as of posting time.

The committee also agreed to allow information technology (IT) companies without prior experience in the conduct of elections in the country to participate in the bidding for next year’s pilot-testing.

However, experience in the 2007 polls is a prerequisite for their participation in the 2010 elections.

Gordon explained that the track record requirement would limit the Comelec to a choice of foreign companies whose technologies have been used in their respective countries, which would be “unfair” to Filipino IT experts.

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