'Congress may ask SC to stop full poll automation'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 28 2010 08:13 PM | Updated as of Jan 29 2010 04:13 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Francis Pangilinan on Thursday announced that the joint congressional oversight committee on poll automation may ask the Supreme Court (SC) to prevent the full automation of the May 10 national elections.

"As member of the automated election oversight committee, we are now studying the option of pushing for partial automated instead of full automation," Pangilinan said in a statement.

The senator, who is also a spokesman of the Liberal Party, said the oversight committee may also ask the SC to issue a writ of mandamus to prevent the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from fully automating the national elections "should we see that automation as it stands may lead to possible failure of elections."

Comelec officials had told the House of Representatives' oversight committee on the status of the automated elections that they have prepared a contingency plan for a 30% manual elections in May.

Comelec Commissioner Armando Velasco said the contingency plan would be implemented in case of failure of elections in particular precincts.

The Comelec had earlier admitted that some of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines may malfunction. They, however, assured that it would not be widespread.

Velasco insisted during the hearing that the possibility of implementing the contingency plan is "a remote scenario."

Comelec Commissioner Jose Melo told the joint congressional oversight committee that only 72 PCOS machines have been tested by the poll body and the Smartmatic-TIM at their warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna.

Comelec executive director Jose Tolentino said that after the field tests and the mock elections scheduled on February 6, they will immediately start the inspection and "acceptance" tests at the Cabuyao warehouse.

He assured lawmakers that the Comelec has enough time to finish testing all the 82,000 machines before May 10.

He said they will be using 300 people to conduct the inspection and acceptance tests. Inspectors will work 24/7 until all the voting machines are reconfigured and declared ready for the automated elections, he added. With reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News and Carmela Fonbuena, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak