Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Supreme Court Okays Poll Automation in 2010 Elections

The Supreme Court of the Philippines will promulgate Thursday, September 10, 2009, its decision regarding the petition by a UP law professor seeking to invalidate the contract signed between COMELEC and Smartmatic/TIM to automate the 2010 national and local elections.  This was the report gathered by abs-cbnNEWS/Newsbreak.  The news item reads in full, thus:
MANILA -- It's full steam ahead to automate next year’s elections.
Voting 11-3-1, the Supreme Court junked the petition filed by University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque to declare as invalid the P7.2 billion automation contract between the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and winning consortium Smartmatic and Total Information Management (TIM), according to early reports reaching abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.
The ruling, penned by Justice Presbitero Velasco, is expected to be promulgated this week. Justices Antonio Carpio, Conchita Carpio-Morales, and Arturo Brion dissented. Justice Leonardo Quisumbing, who is on leave, took no part.
The ruling paves the way for Comelec to go full throttle in the preparations and implementation of poll automation.
Earlier, fears were raised that the SC case, if further prolonged, could push back the poll body’s timetable, which could have dire consequences on the country’s first-ever nationwide computerized elections.
Roque had sought the junking of the automation contract, arguing that the automation law provides that the system should be first pilot-tested in selected areas.
Representing the Concerned Citizens Movement, Roque said the Comelec did not the follow this provision in the law.
Republic Act (RA) 9369, or the amended Automation Law, required that pilot-testing be held in highly-urbanized areas and two provinces each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao in the national and local elections that would be held shortly after the measure’s adoption.
The law was passed January 23, 2007.
The Comelec and the Office of the Solicitor-General argued that the law was referring to the May 2007 mid-term senatorial race. But since automation was not implemented at that time, this provision of the law has been deemed waived.
The Roque petition is just one of a series of dramatic incidents that have plagued poll automation.
The winning consortium almost broke up after bagging the contract due to “irreconcilable differences.”
Legal threats issued by Comelec prompted TIM, the Filipino partner in the consortium, to go back to the negotiating table.
The foreign partner itself, Smartmatic, is bugged by negative publicities and controversies.

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