MAKATI CITY –Â Â Speaking before businessmen and media at the Â New World hotel Â Wednesday, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said Comelec will do its share of the burden for the Â automated 2016 elections by “ensuring that your votes are counted right”.
Voters must Â in turn not just vote for the right persons but vote right. He enjoined all voters Â not to be disenfranchised by getting their biometrics done byÂ October 31Â this year to be able to vote inÂ May 9, 2016. Biometrics involve the voter’s picture, signature and finger print.
Bautista , who used to chair the Philippine Commission of Good Government (PCGG) who recovered about US$4-Billion of the so-called illegal Marcos wealth world-wide Â and other ill-gotten wealth, said because of time constraints, Comelec had to make a decision on what method to use for the 2016 polls, an important one because it will mean the election of a new Philippine president
P6.2B PCOS LEASING
“There is an end to consultation” and we do not expect our decision to have the consensus of all the stakeholders, noted Bautista as he bared that Comelec had finally chosen to “lease 82,000 new machines at the cost of P6.2 Billion” over the Â two other options.Â He cited the business formula of “highest return and least risk” formula in arriving at a decision.
The formula looks at credible elections as the highest “return on the investment” and the” cost” is translated in terms of Â money Â plus time Â needed and efficiency of the options.
The other options were to (a) refurbish the old 82,000 machines” and (b) the hybrid (manual cum automated method) as proposed by IT practitioners including former Comelec officer Gus Lagman. The hybrid option was immediately discarded because it had the highest cost (P25-Billion) and the highest risk, according to Bautista.
The second option of “refurbishing” ,although was lower costed at P 3.3 Billion had drawbacks. This option already had two failed biddings and holding a direct negotiation approach Â would stretch the Â time needed to beat theÂ May 9Â poll date.Â There is greater risk in refurbishing the Â old machines compared to leasing new ones and besides refurbishing would only start in January ending April next year- giving little time for the Comelec to “system” test the refurbished gizmos.
Leasing the new 82,000 machines, on the other hand, Â meant delivery by October ending January next year, giving ample time to check the quality of the machines, he clarified. Â “Besides, since they are new- they had already addressed some of the technical drawbacks of the machines used in 2010 and 2013.”, Bautista added.
Three of the other important elements considered in the criteria for selection were the machines Â receptiveness to system testing, auditing, monitoring and protecting secrecy.
CALL TO VOTERS AND PRIVATE SECTOR
The Comelec head reminded voters to completely “shade the choices portion instead of such silly options as a dot or even a smiley drawing that will invalidate the vote”.
He also disclosed that Comelec had removed the capacity of the machines to issue a hard copy receipt of one’s vote and Â choices, as this can be used as instrument for vote buying. In the Philippines , it is common that the final part of the “bribe” is only given after the polls-after “the showing of some proof” of compliance with the illicit arrangement.Â The Comelec’s removal of that receipt giving mechanism Â incapacitated that part of the bribe giving tool.
Finally. he called on the private sector to help the process through voters education programs ,making the process convenient (like the malls volunteering their areas as polling places for free) and monitoring the counting process after the polls. He also encouraged business groups to sponsor their own “Presidential Debates”.
Bautista ended with a statement indicating both of resignation and hope by quoting ” You can only do what you can do.Â Just hope that what you can do is good enough.” (ByÂ BINGO P, DEJARESCO III)