The Senate, in a marathon session which started Wednesday night, has approved early Thursday morning the supplemental budget bill for the Commission on Elections to implement automation in the 2010 elections.
Senators approved the budget bill reportedly with a provision for "transparency and accuracy in the selection of the relevant technology of the voting machines to be used for the May 10, 2010 automated and local elections."
The vote was 9-4 in favor of the approval of the P11.3 billion supplemental budget bill.
The deliberations were presided by Sen. Edgardo Angara, finance committee chair, after the Senate transformed itself into a Committee of the Whole.
Those voted for the bill were Angara, Rodolfo Biazon, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Ramon Revilla.
Senators Francis Escudero, Benigno Aquino III, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Jamby Madrigal meanwhile voted against the bill.
Angara earlier said on Wednesday that the senators were to finish the deliberations in order to pass the budget bill.
The Senate passed the supplemental budget on its last session day before it goes on a five-week Lenten recess starting March 7.
Angara said adjustments to the bill, if still necessary, could be discussed at the ongoing bicameral oversight committee meetings on the bill.
House Bill 5715 was passed by the House of Representatives on Monday evening and was then transmitted to the Senate the next day.
Earlier, two senators voted against convening the Committee of the Whole.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan objected on procedural grounds. He said the Committee of the Whole should be resorted to sparingly and only on urgent measures.
Escudero meanwhile also voted no. He said he is against deciding on the poll automation budget since, he said, the Comelec has yet to explain satisfactorily how it plans to automate the election process.
12 senators however voted in favor and the committee of the whole was convened chaired by Angara
Comelec commissioners and other officials of the poll body were also in attendance at the Senate deliberations to answer the senators' concerns. With reports from Cecille Lardizabal, Lynda Jumilla and Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News