Chipeco backs automated polls
By Perseus Echeminada
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Ang Kapatiran Party vice presidential candidate Dominador Chipeco Jr. said he believes in the full automation of the May 10 elections and any attempt to conduct a parallel manual count is a foolish and unrealistic idea.
“I believe in the automated polls and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is doing a historic job,” Chipeco said during an interview with The STAR editors and reporters yesterday.
He said he has not seen any alarming scenarios to merit a failure of election, contrary to what some sectors are trying to portray.
“We are just kidding ourselves if we continue pushing for such a parallel count. If there will be a manual count, then the process must be reverted back to the manual voting and wait for the proper time in the next 20 years for the automation,” he said.
Chipeco said the people must have full trust in the automated system and forget about the obsolete manual count.
“But the problem is the bad public relations of the Comelec. Negative news are now dominating and doomsayers are pushing panic bells,” he said, adding that the failure of the Comelec to fully educate the public on the automated election has triggered wild speculations.
“The Comelec has not been doing its job on information drive. The problem is they have very poor PR,” he said.
To count or not to count
But calls for a parallel manual count have been gathering steam.
The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) and several groups of public school teachers have joined the growing clamor for a parallel manual count of the May 2010 election results.
In a statement released yesterday, ECOP said the parallel manual count would assuage fears of election failure and enhance the integrity of the automated machines as well as elevate the comfort level of the electorate.
“We believe in the integrity of the automated elections and the sincerity of the Comelec officials to ensure clean and honest elections, but in any computerized system, redundancy of backups is important to protect the election’s reliability,” ECOP explained.
The group then called on the Comelec and concerned sectors to get together and initiate the necessary measures for the implementation of a manual counting system.
Public school teachers, on the other hand, raised the concern that teachers serving as board of election inspectors (BEIs) would be burdened if they were still tasked with the manual count.
Benjamin Basas, national chairperson of the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), said that expecting teacher-BEIs to do the automated scanning and tallying of the election returns and afterwards have them do a manual reading and tallying of the ballots was not “realistic.”
Basas said the Comelec should hire additional teachers to do the parallel manual count to make the process more “doable.”
“Parallel manual counting is alright as long as it would not mean additional burden to BEIs. Another set of poll workers should be assigned,” he said.
Basas said that the Comelec could have another BEI do the parallel manual count per precinct.
“In our analysis, they should hire at the most five more teachers for each clustered precinct,” he said, adding that there were about 80,000 election precincts, which would make the hiring of additional teachers very costly for the Comelec.
However, the poll body is still studying the proposal to conduct a parallel manual count and is expected to come out with a decision on the matter soon.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the poll body is consulting with its officials in the field to determine whether a parallel manual count is still possible to implement. – Mayen Jaymalin, Elisa Osorio, Rainier Allan Ronda