Failure of elections in Hong Kong, Singapore feared
By Mayen Jaymalin
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – A group of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) yesterday warned of possible failure of the impending computerized elections for Filipino migrants in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Members of the militant Migrante International trooped to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) main office in Intramuros to express their fear and demand government action to prevent the possibility of failure of elections.
“All indications lead us to believe that the automation of elections for Filipinos in HK and Singapore is designed to fail. There will be failure of elections and the Arroyo regime – thru the Comelec – is currently laying the groundwork for this to occur,” Migrante chair Garry Martinez said.
The voting in Hong Kong and Singapore will start in seven weeks yet the Comelec hasn’t come up with the guidelines on the automated balloting, Martinez said.
According to Martinez, the automated OAV guidelines are necessary as the process is completely different from the automated voting and counting here in the country.
“Unlike in the Philippines, Filipinos in Hong Kong and Singapore will be voting for a month (April 10 to May 10, 2010) and each Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine will be configured to accommodate 5,000 voters each,” he pointed out.
“What will be the Comelec’s contingency plan in case the machines break down in the one month balloting? The Comelec says transmission of results will only happen at the close of the polls on May 10. Do they have safeguards in place to protect all the votes stored in the machine for an entire month,” Martinez asked?
He added that the Comelec would be sending limited number of election machines which will be used for 10 hours every day for an entire month.
“Even in the Philippines, we believe the Comelec and its partner Smartmatic haven’t subjected the PCOS machine to this kind of long and grueling scenario. In short, there’s the real danger that the PCOS machine may not be able to stand and last until the entire process ends,” he said.
With the real risk of machine breakdowns and other problems, Martinez said his group is “worried to high heavens” because the Comelec has yet to conduct voters’ education among the Filipino community and, most especially, the embassy/consulate personnel who will be tapped to serve as Special Board of Election Inspectors (SBEIs).
Martinez further complained of the non-conduct of mock elections and field tests in HK and Singapore which he said is a crucial part of preparations for the Comelec to determine the potential technical and operational problems in advance and make the necessary corrections in time for the balloting.