Philippine poll body to push ahead with May 10 vote

Philippine poll body to push ahead with May 10 vote
By Manny Mogato and Rose Francisco

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ Commission on Elections said it would do everything to ensure national elections were held as planned on May 10, after faults with vote counting machines prompted some calls for a delay.

“Now is the time to work together as a people and as a nation,” Comelec commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said in a televised briefing.

“Those who are liable will be held liable, those who are negligent will be held accountable, but for now, let us work together to ensure that the elections will work on May 10, 2010.”

More than 76,000 memory cards from automated voting machines to be used in national and local elections on May 10 have been recalled after tests found they failed to read ballots and print accurate results.

Analysts have long expressed concern the untested system left the door open for vote fraud or in the worst case, a failed elections that could lead to instability and civil unrest.

Larrazabal said Smartmatic, the supplier of vote-counting machines, was ready to ship new and reconfigured memory cards throughout the country for tests in the next two days.

More than a dozen helicopters were made available by top private sector firms and businessmen to deliver the memory cards to 80 provinces ahead of balloting on Monday, he added.

The Philippine Air Force has also offered to help deliver the memory cards to remote islands and mountain villages to cut delivery time by 80-90 percent, Larrazabal said.

“We are committed to pull this through. There will be elections on May 10,” Cesar Flores, Smartmatic’s president for Asia, told the news conference at the Comelec office in Manila.

Flores said 40,000 new memory cards from Taiwan and another 30,000 cards from Hong Kong would arrive on Thursday to replace the faulty software in voting machines.

About 25,000 cards that were pulled from the machines would be reconfigured on Wednesday at Smartmatic’s warehouse in Laguna, south of Manila, to correctly read and tally votes, he said.

Larrazabal said the new cards would be sent, tested and sealed by the eve of the May 10 elections, when more than 50 million Filipinos are eligible to vote for president and nearly 18,000 national and local positions.

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.