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Pabling says there is no legal basis to implement poll's full automation

CEBU, Philippines – Acknowledged Cebuano constitutionalist and second district Rep. Pablo Garcia yesterday warned that a case may be filed before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the full automation of the coming 2010 elections.

Garcia said the Commission on Elections has no legal basis to implement the full automation of the coming elections because it failed to satisfy the provision of the Republic Act 9369, which requires a pilot testing of the computerization before it should be implemented in full.

The legislator said that the piloting of the computerized election should have been done in 2007 but the Comelec failed to do it.

“Dili sila makadiritso pag-automation sa tibuok nasud,” Garcia said over dyLA.

Garcia explained that under Section 27 of RA 9369, a joint oversight committee of the Congress will have to make a report and recommendation based on the piloting of the computerized elections whether or not it should be implemented nationwide.

But since there was no piloting done, there is also no joint oversight committee report.

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Another serious glitch that Garcia cited is the question on the constitutionality of the poll automation. He cited that under Article 7, Section 4 of the Constitution, the canvassing of the votes for the president and vice president will be done by the Congress.

The members of the presidential electoral tribunal will canvass the certificate of canvass duly certified by the board of canvassers from the different provinces. If the automation of the coming election is done, Garcia said there will be no more certificates of canvass from the board of canvassers because the result will come from the machines.

Aside from this, Garcia said that the technology that the Comelec is planning to use is the Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS, which has never been tried in the country before.

According to the former Cebu governor, the technology used in the conduct of the elections in the Autonomous Regions in Muslim Mindanao was different because it was Direct Recording Electronic System.

Likewise, he said the Comelec cannot afford to use the same technology because it is very expensive. He said the controversy between the Filipino partner of Smartmatic, the winning bidder for the project, is a product of the haste process.

“Nilutaw ang problema kay ang tanang proseso dinali-dali,” Garcia said.

Comelec chairman Jose Melo earlier admitted that the possibility of the automated election to push through is already dim because of the conflict between the Total Information Management Incorporated and its foreign partner Smartmatic, which won the bidding for poll automation project. — Fred P. Languido/WAB (THE FREEMAN)

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