Sunday, March 08, 2009

Senate approves poll automation budget

Senate approved late last night (Wednesday) the P11.3-billion budget that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) needed to fully automate the May 2010 presidential elections.

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon, principal author of Republic Act (RA) 9369 or the Amended Automated Elections Law, lauded the Senate's approval of the budget, saying that this sends a strong signal that the Philippines stands firm in protecting and safeguarding the sacred votes of its people.

"We owe it to the Filipino people to have clean, honest and orderly elections. Automation will bring back our people's confidence in the elections," he said.

"With automated elections, our people can rely on the fact that their vote will be counted, and that their vote will mean change for the country, then they will stop being cynical. And once they stop being cynical, perhaps the focus will now be on the common good," he added.

Automating the electoral system to get rid of massive electoral fraud that often marred the country's electoral exercises and ensure clean, honest and orderly elections has been the promise of every president.

But it was not until Dec. 22, 1997 that RA 8436, the law that authorized the Comelec to use an automated election system, was passed.. However, the election modernization law was not implemented.

Gordon, who had been pushing for automated elections, authored RA 9369, which was passed into law in 2007.

RA 9369 was supposed to be implemented in the May 2007 elections but the Comelec sought a postponement, citing the lack of sufficient time for the necessary preparations needed.

To ensure that the provisions of the law would be met, such as the need to hold partial automation before fully automating the next regular national and local election, or the May 2010 elections, the senator pushed for the automation of the 2008 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) polls.

The success of the ARMM automated elections signaled that Filipinos are ready to modernize the country's antiquated electoral system and elevate it from third to first world class.

Gordon said the Senate would exercise its oversight power to ensure that the automation is aboveboard and fully implemented for democracy.

"Now all we have to do is implement the automation law and implement it well," he said.

"I am optimistic that the Comelec is keeping to its time-table. We already passed the law and allotted the appropriations. It is now up to the Comelec to ensure that the nation's quest to modernize our electoral process is enforced," he said.

Senate ratifies Tourism Bill

The Senate on Thursday dawn ratified the consolidated report of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the tourism measure that would grant incentives to tourism industry players, generate more jobs and increase revenues of local government units (LGUs).

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon, principal author of the Tourism Bill, hailed the ratification by Congress of the measure, which aims to boost the country's tourism industry.

"After a long day's work, it is great to have the tourism bill finally approved by both Houses," he said.

The measure is a consolidation of Senate Bill 2213 and House Bill 5229, an act declaring a national policy for tourism as an engine of investment, employment, growth and national development and strengthening the Department of Tourism (DOT) and its attached agencies.

Gordon, a former tourism secretary, said President Arroyo is expected to sign the bill into law within the Lenten break, stressing that the measure could ward off possible effects of the global financial crisis to the country's economy.

He explained that tourism is the fastest and most efficient way of generating foreign exchange, investments and employment. Once the measure is signed into law, it will spur the creation of jobs and open additional channels for the infusion of the much-needed investments in the country's economy, he added.

"This measure will definitely boost domestic tourism as it will provide the needed infrastructures to reinvigorate local productivity. An increased productivity means more jobs for the people and more revenues for the government," Gordon said.

The senator said the measure also seeks for the establishment of "tourism enterprise zones" in strategic areas in the country to lure foreign investors and tourists to visit places rich with history and culture.

He added that LGUs would take a major role in developing these tourism enterprise zones, which will enable them to spur economic productivity and achieve higher levels of economic growth.

"With the faithful implementation of this measure, the nation can have a better institution to regulate and promote tourism and install the necessary infrastructures to make our country truly world-class," Gordon said.

"We can have more jobs for our people, who will no longer have to find for their future in foreign shores, but right here in our native Philippines," he added.


electric actuator said...

Hope this automation will be implemented for this coming election. This is not-so-new issue. Were just fed up already. Budgets where not in the proper place where it really belongs.

Ramon Guico said...

Well, I'm just hope for a clean and safe election this 2010. And who ever wins as the race for presidency, I wish he/she can change our country from its current state. Anyway, I've been looking for topics as interesting as this. Looking forward to your next post.