Even Jinggoy ‘blind’ on electronic elections
By Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
BACOLOD CITY—If the No. 2 man in the Philippine Senate who is running for reelection in May is blind about how poll automation will work, what more an ordinary voter?
Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada admitted on Monday night that he was still in the dark about the automated election process, particularly how votes would be tallied by the Smartmatic-TIM company.
“I myself don’t know how it will really work. I’m blind. All I know is that the ballot is as big as a place mat with hundreds of names to be shaded,” Estrada told reporters, speaking in Filipino, during a campaign sortie here.
If that was the case, Estrada said, it was logical to assume that ordinary voters were “more blind” than he was.
“They don’t have any idea, especially those people from the provinces, those in remote barrios,” he said.
More information, please
Estrada said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should step up its information campaign, with only about two months left before the May 10 national and local elections.
He said he himself would seek a “briefing” on the nitty-gritty of the automation process to add to his basic knowledge about the manner of casting his vote.
He believed the information campaign had not been adequate. “Other people in remote barangays, they don’t know about this automated election,” he said.
Estrada was also worried about the impact of the rotating brownouts on the elections.
The power shortage problem has prompted the House committee on energy to recommend emergency powers for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
While it may be “OK” to have brownouts during the campaign, they shouldn’t occur during election day, Estrada said.
He said he raised the issue of power outages during the Senate deliberations on the automation process but that he received no “definite” response from Comelec Chair Jose Melo.
He said this was part of the reason he did not support the P11-billion budget for the Comelec.
“They can experiment on automation in the barangay election but not in this coming election because this is very, very crucial for our country,” he said.