Election contingency plan out next week
Posted by akosistella on March 15, 2010
THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) will release next week the contingency plan for problems that may arise in the conduct of the first fully automated general polls in May, an election official said at the weekend.
Commissioner Gregorio Y. Larrazabal yesterday said by phone: “It would include what to do if there’s a failure of machines, failure of transmitting [election results].”
He added the plan would include instructions should the ballot be rejected by the precinct count optical scan machine and a security arrangement with the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Under Section 13 of Republic Act 9369 or the Amended Automated Election System (AES) Law, “the AES shall be designed to include a continuity plan in case of a system breakdown or any such eventuality which shall result in the delay, obstruction or non-performance of the electoral process.”
In addition to the security arrangement with the PNP, Mr. Larrazabal said Comelec would meet with the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines and the Department of Energy to assess the power situation in time for the polls.
Nongovernmental groups Center for People Empowerment in Governance and US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) have asked the Comelec to immediately release contingency measures to ensure transparency in the election process and at the same time raise the level of awareness on the AES among voters, candidates and election officers.
Redistribute Comelec role
Meanwhile, the country’s next set of lawmakers should reexa-mine and, if needed, redistribute some of Comelec’s responsibilities and resources to allow it to effectively supervise elections, a former foreign official said at the weekend.
Nora Owen, former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform of Ireland, said on the sidelines of a briefing last Saturday that the AES law could have streamlined the election process.
“Somebody else has to be responsible for some other institutions… They [Comelec] are juggling about 12 balls in the air at one time,” she said.
She added that Congress could have clearly outlined the role of Comelec, the police, military and the technology provider.
She also cited the need to review the law provision on random manual audit.
Section 29 of RA 9369 states: “Where the AES is used, there shall be a random manual audit in one precinct per congressional district chosen by the commission.”
“They clearly have to do more than one precinct [per congressional district audit] because that’s too small,” she said.
For his part, Mr. Larrazabal said the poll body has yet to decide on the random manual audit but assured that it would be more than one precinct per legislative district.
The delegation, organized by NDI, groups Sam Gejdenson, former member of the United States House of Representatives; Sue Wood, former president of the New Zealand National Party; Jaiie Metzel, executive vice-president of Asia Society; Thomas Barry, NDI deputy regional director for Asia; and local organizer Telibert C. Laoc, resident program director.
(Ana Mae G. Roa, BusinessWorld)