By: Mayen Jaymalin
The poll body, according to the source, has already junked a proposal to go to manual in the ARMM polls.
The poll official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Comelec rejected the appeal of newly appointed Commissioner Augusto Lagman for manual elections.
“He (Lagman) really raised the issue of having manual elections but the commission en banc has decided to honor the earlier decision,” the source said.
“It is already official therefore that the ARMM elections will be automated, if ever (the polls will) push through,” the source added.
The source said the deliberation was “healthy” and “cordial” although it began with Lagman strongly pushing for the manual system.
In the end, the source said, Lagman conceded defeat to his six fellow commissioners.
“The (commission) en banc ultimately decided to go automated in these ARMM elections pursuant to the election automation law,” the source said.
Lagman was the foremost critic of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines used in the 2010 national and local elections, citing the technology’s insufficient transparency as required under Republic Act 9369 or the Poll Automation Law.
Upon his appointment, Lagman said he would exert all efforts to convince his fellow commissioners to revert to the manual system since the ARMM elections only involve a small number of candidates and winners.
The Comelec is set to use some 5,000 PCOS machines in the regional polls. It already has 900 units and is looking at buying 4,000 more.
Comelec is now negotiating with service provider Smartmatic International Corp. for an “option to purchase” the PCOS machines used in the May 10, 2010 elections.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is preparing security measures for the special congressional election in the first district of Ilocos Sur and for the ARMM polls as well.
PNP chief Director General Raul Bacalzo has met with the heads of the national support units and the regional police directors to assess the prevailing situation in the country, especially in Ilocos Sur and the ARMM.
“We are preparing for the elections in Ilocos Sur and ARMM, although nothing is final in the ARMM elections. We need to prepare for that,” said Bacalzo after presiding over the PNP’s second quarter conference last week.
The special election in the first district of Ilocos Sur was called to find a replacement for former congressman Ronald Singson who was convicted of drug trafficking by a court in
Hong Kong last February.
Bacalzo said they are also readying security plans for the ARMM polls, which are initially set on Aug. 8.
The Senate has yet to pass a Palace-backed measure postponing the ARMM elections and synchronizing the exercise with the May 2013 national elections
The House of Representatives earlier had passed its own postponement bill. Two petitions questioning the move are pending before the Supreme Court.
Former senator Aquilino Pimentel yesterday said the move to postpone the ARMM polls is already “dead” due to lack of time.
“Malacañang’s position is not tenable. They are pushing hard for poll postponement and the appointment of OICs (officers-in-charge), but they have to follow legal processes,” Pimentel said.
“They need to first amend the ARMM Organic Law and subject it to a plebiscite.
That is the process and the ARMM Organic Law was adopted only after it was subjected to a plebiscite. That would be difficult for them since they cannot hold a plebiscite before the elections. There’s no time,” he added. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Edith Regalado